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Bulletin No. 8 






T. S. PALMER, M. D. 

A«tsi>it;iiit Cliiof of Division 





United States Department of Agriculture, 

Division of Ornithology and Mammalogy, 

Washington, D. C, October 19, 1895. 
Sir: I have the honor to transmit and to recommend for publication 
as Bulletin No. 8 of this division a report on The Jack Babbits of 
the United States, by Dr. T. S. Palmer, assistant chief of division. 
Dr. Palmer has prepared the whole bulletin and is responsible for all 
statements made, including opinions respecting the status of the vari- 
ous species. 

Respectfully, C. Hart Merriam, 

Chief of Division. 
Hon. J. Sterling Morton, 

Secretary of Agriculture. 

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The damage clone to crops by rabbits has been illustrated very 
forcibly during recent years by the losses sustained by farmers and 
orchardists in the arid regions of the West through the depreda- 
tions of the large native hares, or jack rabbits. The introduction of 
irrigation and the cultivation of large tracts of land have favored the 
increase of rabbits in several States by furnishing a new source of 
food supply. To such an extent have their depredations increased 
that the extermination of jack rabbits has become a serious question 
in California, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon, and Utah. 

The objects of this bulletin are: (1) To give a general account of the 
distribution and habits of the various species found in the United 
States; (2) to show the methods which have been used to exterminate 
the animals and to protect crops from their depredations; and (3) to 
bring together facts and figures concerning the economic uses of rab- 
bits in general, for the purpose of indicating how our native species 
may be more generally utilized. 

The disastrous results of the introduction of the common European 
rabbit into Australia some thirty years ago are known the world over, 
and nowhere have the methods of destroying rabbits and protecting 
crops been so carefully investigated as on that continent. While the Old 
World rabbit belongs to an entirely different species from the jack rab- 
bits of the West, and differs from them in habits, some of the Austra- 
lian methods might be used with advantage in our own country. The 
commercial utilization of rabbits has been attended with considerable 
success in Australia; large quantities of rabbits are used for food, and 
an immense number of skins are annually exported to England, some 
of which find their way to the markets of this country. Therefore, 
when possible, reference has been made to experiments in Australia 
which are likely to be of benefit in the United States. 

It is obviously impracticable to mention the many persons who have 
contributed data, but acknowledgments are due to all who have aided 
in the preparation of this report. The author, however, is under special 
obligations to Maj. Ohas. Bendire and to Messrs. M. S. Eeatherstone 
of Goshen, Cal., Henry Lahann of Traver, Cal., Geo. W". Stewart and 
1). K. Zuinwalt of Visalia, Cal., A. Van Deusen of Lamar, Colo., and 


to Vernon Bailey and J. Ellis McLellan, Held agents of the division, for 
many valuable notes. More than five hundred letters were written in 
the course of the investigation, and thus a large amount of informa- 
tion lias been collected which could not otherwise have been obtained. 
The statistics given in the last two chapters are only approximate, and 
necessarily incomplete, but any corrections or additions will be wel- 
comed, particularly in the case of the lists of rabbit drives, which it 
is desirable to make as complete as possible. 

T. S. Palmer. 



Chapter [.—Introduction 11 

General habits 11 

Food 12 

I tepredations 13 

Species found in the United states 13 

Prairie Hare or White-tailed Jack Rabbit (Lepus oampestris) II 

California Jack Rabbit (Lepus californious) 17 

Black-tailed or Texan .Jack Rabbit (Lepus texianvs) lit 

Black-eared .lack Rabbit (Lepus melanotic) 21 

Allen's Jack Rabbit ( Lepus alleui) 22 

Chapter II.— Abundance and Rapidity of Increase 24 

Breeding habits 25 

Number of young in a litter 


Time of birth 27 

Chaptrb III. — Injury to Crops and Means of Protection 30 

Injury to grain, orchards, etc 30 

Protection of orchards and crops 32 

By fences 33 

Protection of single trees 34 

Smears 3 I 

Chaptrb IV. — Methods of Destruction 36 

Inoculation 36 

Methods used in Australia 37 

Poison 38 

Bounties 1<> 

California 40 

Idaho 41 

Oregon 42 

Texas 42 

Utah 43 

Expenditures in Australia 43 

Natural enemies 44 

Epidemics 45 

Chapter V.— Rabbit Drives and Hums 47 

California 47 

Origin of the drives 52 

Results of the drives 57 

< Oregon 5!) 

Rabbit hunts 60 

Utah 60 

Idaho 62 

( lolorado 63 

Summary .' 01 

Chaptrb VI. — Value of the Jack Rabbit (;:> 

Coursing 66 

skins 68 

Jack rabbits as game 71 

Parasites 71 

How the game is killed and shipped 72 

The market 71 

General summary and conclusions 78 

Articles on Rabbits 80 




Opposite p 

Frontispiece. Rabbit driving in the San Joaquin Valley, California — The 
Grand Army drive at Fresno, March 12, 1892. (From photograph by Stiffler. i 

I. Hap showing distribution of jack rabbits in the United States 11 

II. Distribution of the California and Texan .lack Rabbits 18 

III. A jack rabbit drive near Fresno, Cal., May 5. 1894 — Rabbits entering the 

corral 17 

IV. Result of the Grand Army rabbit drive at Fresno, Cal. — 20.000 rabbits 

killed. (From photograph by Stihier) "1 

V. Map showing location of rabbit drives in southern California 55 

VI. Result of the jack rabbit hunt at Lamar, Colo., December 22, 1894—5,142 

rabbits killed. (From photograph by Hallack) 63 


1. Diagram showing form of corral used in the rabbit drive at Bakersfield, 

Cal., January 15, 1888. (From Am. Field. 1888) I!» 

2. Diagram showing form of portable corral used by the Goshen Rabbit Drive 

Club. (From M. S. Feat heist one | 50 


By T. s. Palmer, M. I). 



The Great Plains and deserts of the western United States are 
inhabited by several species of large bares, commonly known as 'jack 
rabbits.' These rabbits occur almost everywhere, except in the higher 
mountains and in wooded regions, from the ninety-tilth meridian west 
to the Pacific, and from the Plains of the Saskatchewan southward over 
the table-land of Mexico to the Isthmus of Tehuan tepee. The resein 
blance of their large ears to those of the well-known pack animal of the 
West has suggested the common names of 'jackass hares,' 'jack rab- 
bits, 71 or 'jacks.' In some parts of California jack rabbits are called 
'narrow-gauge mules' and 'small mules,' but fortunately these absurd 
terms are very local, and not likely to come in general use. In the South- 
west and beyond the Rio Grande the large hares are called 'liebres* 
by the Mexicans, to distinguish them from the cotton-tail rabbits, or 


Jack rabbits may be seen abroad at almost any hour of the day. and 
hence are likely to be recognized by the most casual observer, and are 
perhaps better known than most other native mammals. Living as they 
do on the open plain, where they are compelled to rely for safety on 
quickness of hearing and on speed, their ears and hind legs are devel- 
oped to an extraordinary degree. This gives them a somewhat grotesque 
appearance, but in reality few animals are more graceful as they bound 
along when once thoroughly alarmed. In spite of an unfortunate name 
and seeming awkwardness of gait, a closer acquaintance with their 

Tins name Beems to have been first introduced by Auduhon and liaehman in 1851. 

In referring to one of the species found alon^ the Mexican border tins -ay: "This 
species is called the jackass rabbit in Texas, owing t<» t he Length <>r it- cars." | Quad. 
N. Am.. II. 1851, p. 99); and again, in reference to Lepus texianus, "This bare received 

from the Texana ami from our troop.s in the Mexican war the name of jackass 

in common with Ltpus callotit" (Ibid., III. p. 157.) 



habits will reveal many points of interest and will arouse admiration 
for bhe way in which they seem to overcome every adverse condition 
of life, so admirably arc they adapted to their Surroundings. 

Unlike the cotton-tails, or the common rabbit of Europe, these 
bares do not live in burrows, but make ' forms' under bushes or in 
patches of weeds, where they find protection from the weather, and 
also bring forth their young. Certain shrubs in the West belonging 
to the genus Bigelovia are commonly known as 'rabbit brush, 7 because 
they grow in dense thickets, in which rabbits are fond of hiding. 
Where there are no bushes, the rabbits seek the shade of any objects 
which can shield them from the burning rays of the sun. A traveler on 
the Southern Pacific Kailroad, crossing the barren plains of the San 
Joaquin Valley in California, where large stretches of country are 
devoid of bushes, may sometimes see the jack rabbits crouching in the 
shadows of the telegraph poles, evidently alarmed by the train, but 
uncertain whether or not to forsake their shady spots and seek safety 
in flight. 

Extremes of climate apparently do not affect them to any great 
extent. Some species are at home on the deserts of Arizona and Cali- 
fornia; others, as the Prairie Hare, contrive to exist in the intense cold 
of a Montana winter, when the ground is covered with snow, and they 
are compelled to live on the bark of shrubs or of willows growing along 
the streams. 

Food. — Like other rabbits, they feed almost exclusively on the bark 
and leaves of shrubs and on herbage, and hardly any land is too poor 
to supply this food in some form. 

On the Great Plains, buffalo and grama grass and such herbs as 
they can find constitute their principal fare, but this is supplemented 
in winter by the bark of willows. In the deserts of the Great Basin 
they seem to be especially fond of the tender annual species of grease- 
wood (Atrvplex) and several species of cactus. If nothing better is 
obtainable, however, they can subsist on Sarcobatus, and shrubs which 
other animals seldom touch. Sometimes it is difficult to see where they 
can obtain sufficient food, but lack of water and of green herbage serve 
only to reduce their numbers and rarely cause their complete absence 
from any region. Among the greasewood on the alkali flats northwest 
of Great Salt Lake, or on the cactus covered deserts of Arizona, the 
jack rabbits are almost as fat and sleek as when feeding in the 
a 1 full;! patches and vineyards of southern California. If necessary 
they can travel long distances for food, but as they seldom drink, 
scarcity of water causes them little inconvenience, and the juicy cac- 
tus 'pads' or ordinary desert herbage furnish all the moisture neces- 
sary to slake their thirst. They are fond of vegetables and alfalfa, and 
when t liese can*be had they quickly abandon their usual food and establish 
themselves near t he garden or cultivated field. Their fondness for tender 
bark makes them particularly destructive in the orchard and vineyard, 


where they are likely to do irreparable injury by girdling young fruit 
trees and vines. 

As jack rabbits multiply rapidly they often become great pests. 
They have comparatively few natural enemies, and if not held in check 
by other agencies would doubtless overrun the country. Their undue 
increase is prevented ordinarily by lack of food, by unfavorable climatic 
conditions, or by disease. Many die during unusually severe winters: 
a cold, wet spring is disastrous to t lie young, and thousands of young 
and old perish during the epidemics which occasionally break out among 
them over large sections of country. Nevertheless, tbey can adapt 
themselves to circumstances to such an extent as to be able not only 
to hold their own under most unfavorable conditions, but to increase 
rapidly whenever food is abundant. 

Depredations. — The experience of settlers in the San Joaquin Valley, 
California, along the Arkansas River in southeastern Colorado, and 
in southwestern Idaho lias shown that where new land 1ms been culti- 
vated or irrigated jack rabbits fairly swarm in from the surrounding 
country, and instead of being driven out by advancing civilization, at 
first multiply so enormously that radical measures have to be adopted 
to protect the crops from destruction. 

Some idea of the extent of these injuries can be formed, when it is 
stated that the damage caused by jack rabbits to the crops in Tulare 
County, Cal., during a single year has been estimated at $000,000, and 
one county in Idaho has actually exjiended more than $30,000 in boun- 
ties on these pests ! The money spent by individual farmers in the West 
on rabbit fences and other devices for protecting crops would aggregate 
a very large sum, which it is impossible even to estimate. But the thou- 
sands of rabbits destroyed for bounties and the tens of thousands killed 
in the large hunts and by epidemics seem to diminish the abundance 
of the species only in localities where a large part of the land is under 
cultivation and the animals are systematically killed oft' year after year. 

Jack rabbits are largely used for food and for sport. In a fair race 
they can outstrip all but the best hounds and can even keep abreast of 
a railway train running at a moderate speed for some distance. For 
coursing the native species are considered equal, if not superior, to the 
Old World hares. Large quantities are shipped to market every year 
as game, ami the trade is capable of considerable increase. The skins 
might also be saved with profit, but the value of jack rabbits, whether 
for food or for fur, by no means offsets the immense damage which they 
do to crops. 


This group of rabbits is unfortunately in a somewhat chaotic con- 
dition, and it will be impossible to treat the species satisfactorily until 
they have been subjected to a thorough revision. A technical discus- 
sion of their characters and relationships does not come within the 


scope of this bulletin, however desirable it might be to consider these 
questions. For the presenl it will be sufficient merely to give the 
.species now generally recognized, with the full knowledge that their 
status and nomenclature are likely to undergo considerable modifica- 
tion in the near future. Such a course is unsatisfactory, but unavoid- 
able under the circumstances. 

For convenience, the jack rabbits which occur in the United States 
maybe divided into two groups, according to the color of the upper 
surface of the tail. 1 In the first group, represented by the Prairie Hare 
(Lepus oampestris) — the only jack rabbit which ever turns white in 
winter — the tail is entirely white. In the second group the upper sur- 
face of the tail is marked by a more or less distinct stripe of black. 
Four or more black-tailed rabbits have been described from the West: 
( 1 ) A buff-bellied species found in California and southwestern Oregon 
(Lepus calif ornicus); (2) a large, long-limbed species inhabiting south- 
ern Arizona and Sonora, known as Allen's Hare (Lepus alleni)) (3) a 
widely distributed white bellied animal with long ears, occurring in the 
(heat Basin and commonly known as the Texan Jack Babbit (Lepus 
texianus), and (4) the Black-eared Jack, or Eastern Jackass Hare of the 
Great Plains (Lepus melanotis), very closely related to the Texan Hare, 
but differing from it in possessing shorter ears and richer coloring. 

One or more Mexican species cross the southern border of the United 
States and are found in the extreme southern part of Texas, but their 
range within our limits is so restricted that they will not be considered 

Prairie Hare or White-tailed Jack Rabbit. 

(Lepus campestris Bachnian.) 

The Prairie Hare was first discovered by Lewis and Clark on their 
memorable trip across the continent in 1804-1806, although not actually 
named until 1837. 2 They described it as follows: 

The hare [Lepus campestris'] on this side of the Rocky Mountains iiihah its the great 
plains of the Columbia. Eastward of those mountains they mhahit the plains of the 
Missouri. They weigh from 7 to 11 pounds. * * * The head, neck, hack, shoul- 
ders, thighs, and outer part of the legs are of a lead color; the sides, as they 
approach the hclly become gradually more white; the belly, breast, and inner part 
of the legs and thighs are white, with a light shade of lead color; the tail is round 
and bluntly pointed, covered with white, soft, fine fur, not quite so long as on the 
other parts of the body; the body is covered with a deep, fine, soft, close fur. The 
colors line described are those which the animal assumes from the middle of April 
bo the middle <>l' November; the rest of the year he is pure white, except the black 
and reddish-brown of the ears, which never change. A few reddish-brown spots 
are sometimes intermixed with the white at this season [February 26, 1806J on the 
head and the upper part of the neck and shoulders. * * * II is food is grass and 
herbs; in winter he feeds much on the bark of several aromatic herbs growing on 

'.lack rabbits never nun the tail up like cotton-tails, and hence it is easy to tell 
at a distance whether the color of (he upper surface is black or white. 
Bachman, Journ. A. ad. Nat.Sci., Philadelphia, Vol. VII, 1837, p. 340. 


the plains. Captain Lewis measured the Leaps of this animal, and found them 
commonly from 18 to 21 feet. They are generally found separate, and are never 
seen to associate in greater numbers than two or three. 

The White-tailed Jack Rabbit has an extended range in the northern 
part of the Great Basin and on theGreal Plains. It is said to be found 
as far north as latitude 55 c in Saskatchewan and ranges eastward to 
Lake Winnipeg, Elk River, .Minnesota, and central [owa. On the 
south it is not found on the plains much below central Kansas and 
southern Colorado— Fori Riley and Pendennis, Kans.. and has Animas, 
Colo., being near its southern limits. On the Rocky Mountain plateau, 
however, it goes a little farther south and has been taken at Fort Gar- 
land, Colo., and at Kanab, Utah. The Sierra Nevada and Cascade 
liange mark the limits of its western distribution, but it occurs in the 
Sierra as far south as Hope Valley (lat. 38° 30'), and probably as far as 
latitude 30°. 

Although called l Prairie Hare,' it ranges high up in the mountains — 
at least in summer — higher than any other jack rabbit. In August, 
1891, I Baw a large rabbit, probably belonging to this species, at an 
altitude of about 10,000 feet in the Sierra Nevada, about 20 miles south 
of Mount Whitney. Signs of their presence have been found in the 
Rocky Mountains far above timber line and nearly to the summits of the 
higher peaks. It is hardly probable that jack rabbits spend the winter 
at such altitudes, but the upper limit of their winter range still remains 
to be ascertained. Abundant food in the mountain meadows and above 
timber line probably tempts them to ascend from lower levels in summer 
just as cultivated iields on the plains attract them from a distance. 

In the mountains and in the northern part of their range they become 
pure white in winter, but in Kansas, Nebraska, Washington, and else- 
where near the southern limit of their habitat they undergo only a 
partial change, or do not turn white at all. In southern Oregon the 
rabbits inhabiting the higher mountains are said to turn white in win- 
ter, while a little lower down they undergo only a oartial change and 
in the valleys do not assume the white pelage. 

This species probably never occurs in such numbers as the Black- 
tailed Jack Rabbit, even under the most favorable circumstances. Dr. 
('ones speaks of it on the Great Plains as follows: 

Nor is tin- Prairie Hare in the least gregarious. I have never seen nor heard 
of several together, and indeed it la rare to find even two together, at any - 
whatever. It is one of the most solitary animals with which I have become 
acquainted. I have never found any kind of locality even, which. pre- 

Benting special attractions, might invite many hares together. All places are alike 
to them: the oldest frontiersman, probably, could aever gness with any degree of 
cm taint \ where the ne\i hare to hound off before him would appear. 1 f it have any 
preference, however, it is for -weedy' tracts, of which the sage-brash regions furnish 
the hot examples: there it finds shelter which the Low, crisp, grass of rolling prairie 
does not afford, and also doubtless secure ber variety of i 

Cones Edition Hist.Exped. Lewis and Clark, Vol. Ill, 1893, pp 865 866. 
-' Bull. Essex Institute. VII L875 . 1876, pp. 80-81, 


The true California animal was formerly supposed to extend east- 
ward to the Colorado River and Arizona, but more recent investigations 
show that it is restricted entirely to the region west of the Sierra. 
litre, where the chaparral-covered slopes of the foothills dip down to 
the valleys, it is most at home, mainly below an altitude of 3,000 
feet. Barely docs it range above 5,000 feet, although in one instance 
at least, on Mount Pifios, it has been found higher than 8,000 feet. 
But the individuals found at these higher levels are few in number, 
and are probably only stragglers which have wandered up from the 
lower foothills. It avoids the dark, damp forests of the redwood belt 
on the Northwest coast ; but finding suitable localities beyond the 
limits of its native State, it has crossed the Siskiyou Mountains and 
taken possession of the Eogue Eiver and Umpqua valleys in Oregon, 
aud is known to range as far north as Comstock, in Douglas County. 
Mr. Clark P. Streator reports that a single specimen, probably a strag- 
gler, was killed near Eugene, at the head of the Willamette Valley, 
about November 20, 1893. To the south this species extends some 
distance down the peninsula of Lower California. 

While the limits of certain portions of this range are readily under- 
stood from well-marked conditions of climate and topography, it is by 
no means easy to explain the invisible but apparently sharply defined 
lines which separate the California and Texan rabbits in the great 
interior valley of California. Here they probably mingle with one 
another, but at no point are their habitats known to overlap to 
any great extent. Nor is it clear why the Texan Jack Rabbit, which 
extends up the east slope of the Sierra as high as 7,000 feet and over 
Walker pass (altitude 5,300 feet), should occupy only the bottom of the 
San Joaquin Valley below 2,000 feet. This part of its range is inclosed 
on both sides by that of Lepus calif or nicus^ which is here restricted to 
the foothills, but which spreads out to the north and covers the whole 
expanse of the Sacramento Valley, as well as the slopes of the Sierra 
Nevada and Coast Ranges. Briefly stated, the white-bellied species is 
found in the bottom of the San Joaquin Valley, while the buff-bellied 
animal occupies the Sacramento Valley and the adjacent foothills, as 
well as those surrounding the San Joaquin Plains. 

The California Jack Rabbit is nowhere as abundant as the Texan 
species. In some portions of the Coast Range only two or three indi- 
viduals will be found over a large extent of country, and it is quite 
rare in some of the valleys southeast of San Franciso Bay; but this is 
due mainly to the settlement of the country, and the various means 
adopted for its extermination. It is perhaps most abundant in the 
Rogue Kiver Valley, Oregon, along the western slope of the central 
part of the Siena Nevada, and in the San Gabriel and San Bernardino 

In speaking of the California species T. S. Van Dyke 1 says: "Few 
animals are more graceful than this hare, whether skimming the 

1 Southern California, 188G, p. 131. 

Bull. 8, Div. Ornithology and Mammalogy, U. S. Dept. Agncultur 

Plate II. 

\ •— -■••".-/f '^V¥' .Tetania \ix. 



ccs7 I 

Ic^rey • '•:&,. •Lo..ePx,te xp ul -„aceLrt'-/L 

S*n. Luis Obis pol}.'*. ••••.,• ^aJiersJieW^i 1 '*' afciilv- «# — b5 



°"Q l K lit*? 

Dotted area = California Jack Rabbit ; spots outside this area show where the Texan Rabbit has been collected. 


plain before the outstretched greyhound or aroused from his 'form' 
he dashes away with high jumps, as if to take a better view of the 
intruder, or stopping and rearing upon his hind legs, stands erect, with 
ears pointed at the zenith and surveys him at sale distance, then 
again lengthens out his trim form and hugs the ground like a racer 
until a mile away. Sometimes at early morning or evening you may 
see him scudding along the plain as if in play, running 2 or -"> miles, 
perhaps, most of the time at highspeed. * * * A line runner he 
is, too, and gifted with good staying qualities. It takes a good grey- 
hound to overtake the best of them, while the slowest ones distance a 
common dog at every bound." 

Black-tailed Jack Rabbit, Texan Jack Rabbit. 
(Lepu8 texianu8 Waterhonse. 1 ) 

This hare is pale-gray above, often tinged with brownish and mixed 
with black; the lower surface of the body and tail is white, while the 
tips of the ears and upper part of the tail are distinctly marked with 
black. In length it measures about 25J inches (G47 mm. 2 ) from the tip 
of the nose to the end of the tail vertebme and weighs 4 or 5 pounds. 
The ears average 6% inches (171 mm.) but the tail is only 4£ inches (109 
mm.) in length. The Black-tailed Hare is smaller than either the Prairie 
Hare or Allen's Hare, but is about the same size as the California Jack 
Babbit. Specimens from southern Arizona are not as large as those 
from the central part of the Territory and other, portions of the Great 
Basin region, and for this reason have been recently separated by Dr. 
J.A.Allen 3 as a subspecies or race called the Desert Hare (Lepus 
texianus rrcmicus). 

Usually it is not difficult to distinguish the Black-tailed Hare from 
other species found in the same region. In the northern parts of its 
range it occurs along with the Prairie Hare in some parts of Oregon, 
Washington, Idaho, Colorado, Nebraska, and Kansas, but here the lat- 
ter {Lepus campextris) may be recognized by its white tail, larger size, 
and more or less complete change of pelage in winter — no black-tailed 
species showing any tendency to turn white in winter. 

The Texan Babbit will hardly be confused with the larger and longer 
limbed Allen's Hare in southern Arizona, after they have once been 
seen together, but it is sometimes difficult to distinguish it from the 
California Jack. Although typical specimens of the latter arc bull 
Instead of white below and have the lower surface of the tail buff, those 
from the foothills bordering the San Joaquin Valley in California are 

'Under tin- name are included all the black-tailed .jack rabbits, except Eepiw alk ni, 

which arc found from the Rocky Mountains west to the Sierra Nevada and Cascade 

-Average of 9 specimens collected by l>r. E. A. ftleams at Fori Verde, Ariz. (Bull. 
Am. Mas. Nat Hist., II, Feb. 1890, 902. 

3 Ibid., VI, Dec. 20, 1894, pp. 347-348. 


frequently bo light in color as to closely resemble the white-bellied 
Texan Babbit. 

The Black-tailed -luck Rabbit is found in the Great Basin from the 
Rocky Mountains west to the Cascade Range in Oregon and to the 
Sierra Nevada in California, and from central Idaho and southeastern 
Washington south to Mexico. Its range extends eastward into west- 
ern Texas and some distance down the Rio Grande. West of the 
Sierra it has a most remarkable distribution in a narrow strip along the 
bottom of the San Joaquin Valley from the Tejon Mountains nearly as 
far north as latitude 38°. It gains access to the valley from the Mohave 
Desert by way of Walker Pass (altitude 5,300 feet) and probably also 
by the Canada cle las Uvas (altitude 4,300 feet). It is distinctly an 
animal of the deserts and plains and nowhere ascends to very high 

In southern Arizona and on the Colorado Desert in California the 
Texan Jack Rabbit is usually seen singly or in groups of only two 
or three individuals, while in Kansas, eastern Colorado, and some 
portions of the Great Basin large numbers are often found together. 
Its abundance or scarcity is usually governed by local conditions — an 
unusually cold winter, an epidemic or a dry year in which food is 
scarce, may so reduce its numbers as to make the species appear rare 
where ordinarily it is abundant. When food supply or other conditions 
favor its increase it is gregarious to a high degree, and occurs in 
immense numbers. 

Forty years ago Dr. George Suckley found these rabbits very abun- 
dant south of the Boise River, on his trip through southwestern 
Idaho, in September, 1854. ' He says : " They are so numerous that our 
command of GO men subsisted on them for nearly a week. In a short 
ride of an hour's duration to see 30 near the trail was nothing remark- 
able. * * * This hare breeds in great numbers on the vast sage 
plains at the South Boise River, between it and the Snake River." 

More recently, in 1878, Maj. Chas. Bendire found them in immense 
numbers in the Payette Valley, in southwestern Idaho, where fully 150 
were seen together one morning near Payette River Ferry. At this 
point there was a small grass-covered island to which the rabbits could 
cross from the river bank by a bridge. When startled they merely 
loped away for a few yards and then stopped to ascertain the cause of 
the disturbance. A writer in 'Forest and Stream' 2 states that in the 
vicinity of Austin, Nev., jack rabbits are exceedingly abundant, and 
thai 487 had been killed in eight hours by a party of 12 hunters. 

But the Texan Jack Rabbit is most abundant in the southern part of 
the San Joaquin Valley from latitude 37° southward, where the condi- 
tions for its existence are so favorable that it is still able to hold 
its ground in spite of the great numbers annually slaughtered by drives. 

1 Pacific Railroad Reports, XII, Book 2, 1860, Chap. II, p. 105. 
" Vol. XVIII, Apr, 20, 1882, p. 229. 


Iii the summer of L891 I saw large numbers just south of the town of 

Bakersfield. At least a hundred were in sight at once, and wer< 
tame that they paid little attention to teams passing along the road, 
and would allow a person to approach within a lew feel before moving. 
Dr. A. K. Fisher and Mr. Vernon Bailey also saw thousands of jack 
rabbits between Bakersfield and Visalia only a lew weeks later. At 
one point just north of Delano, Tulare County, at Least 100 scampered 
away at a single discharge of a gun. 

Eeferring to the habits of the Black-tailed Jack Babbit in Arizona. 
Dr. Cones 1 writes: 

At Fort Whipple, the species is very common the year round, and almosl every 
sort of locality is frequented by them, though they chiefly affect grassy meadows 
and open glades, interspersed with copses, or clumps of oak trees, or patches of 
briery undergrowth. The gulches, or 'washes,' as they are called, hading out of 

mountain ravines, and thickly set with grease- wood (Obione [A triplex] canescenn), are 
favorite resorts. They Iced much upon this plant, and by their incessant coursings 
through patches of it they wear little intersecting avenues, along which they ramble 
at their leisure. When feeding at their ease, and unsuspicious of danger, they move 
with a sort of lazy abandon, performing a succession of careless leaps, now nibbling 
the shrubs overhead, now the grass at their feet. They are not at all gregarious, 
though peculiar attractions may bring many together in the same spot. They do 
not burrow, but construct a ' form ' in which they squat. I do not think these are 
permanent; but rather that they are extemporized, as wanted, in some convenient 
bush; though the case may be different during the season of reproduction. It has 
been stated by some authors, that only two or three are produced at a birth, which I 
know to be at least not always the case, having found as many as six embryos in the 
multipartite womb of a pregnant female. In the latitude of Fort Whipple the 
young are brought forth in June. 

It has a long, swinging gallop, and performs prodigious leaps, some of 
them over bushes 4 feet high; now in the air, its feet all drawn together and 
downstretched; now on the ground, which it touches and rebounds from with 
marvelous elasticity. It will course thus for a hundred yards or so, and then stop 
as suddenly as it started: and, sitting erect, its long, wide open ears, vibrating with 
excitement, are turned in every direction to catch the sound of following danger. 

Black-eared Jack Rabbit or Eastern Jackass Hare 
(Ltpua melanotis Mearns.) 

The Black-eared Jack Rabbit is simply the eastern form of the Black- 
tailed Rabbit of the Great Basin region, and was described only Biz 
years ago. in L890,by Dr. E. A. Mearns, from a market specimen sup. 
posed to have been killed near Independence Cans. 2 The ditVerences 
between it and the common Black-tailed Jack Babbit are only apparent 
after a careful comparison of a series of specimens, but Lepus melanotis 
is described as having a richer coloring and shorter ears than Its West- 

Am. Nat.. I. Dec., ist')7. J.].. 532-533. 

•Bull. Am. Mns. Nat. Hist.. X. Y., II, Feb., 1890, pp. 297-300. The average measure- 
ments of two specimens from Independence, including th«' type, are: Total length, 
23± inehes (590 mm ); tail, 3 inches (77"""): ear. 5i inches (142 n, «). The ear a\, 
nearly 30 mm shorter than in /.. tiXHMUi, 


era representative. Whether it should be recognized as a full species 
or merely a subspecies need not be considered here; but it may be 
explained that under this name are included all the black-tailed jack 
rabbits occurring east of the Kocky Mountains and from central Texas 
north ward to Nebraska. 

Tins hare is found on the Great Plains from eastern Kansas to the 
Rocky Mountains and western Texas, where its range probably merges 
into that of Lepus texianus. In some parts of Kansas and in south- 
eastern Colorado it is very abundant and is killed in large numbers. 
When full grown it weighs about C pounds and is the black-tailed rab- 
bit most commonly seen in the markets of Eastern cities. 

Its habits are similar to those of other jack rabbits. According to 
Mr. H. P. Attwater it is sometimes captured when young and kept alive, 
but is.always wild and very pugnacious. It is much used in coursing, 
and is considered one of the best rabbits for this sport. An interest- 
ing experiment on its speed was made on the plains of eastern Colorado 
near Burlington, about 160 miles east of Denver. 1 Several hares were 
turned loose after having a drop or two of anise-seed oil rubbed on their 
feet, and as soon as they were out of sight a pack of five hounds was 
started in pursuit. The first and second hares were run down in 
about twenty minutes, but the hounds required nearly two hours to 
overhaul the third, 'an old black tail.' The writer adds that these 
rabbits run in circles as a rule. They make a spurt for the first two 
miles, but then begin to weaken, and if the scent is not lost they are 
certain to be overtaken by the hounds at last. 

Allen's Jack Rabbit. 

(Lepus alleni Meams.) 

Allen's Jack Babbit is the largest and finest of the hares of the South- 
west. Even at a distance it may be readily distinguished by its gray 
sides and the white on the hind part of the body. Its length is about 
25J inches (643 m,n ); tail, 2f inches (*69 mm )j while the ears measure 
about 7f inches (195 mm ). 2 The color above is yellowish brown mixed 
with black, but this area is restricted by the gray of the sides, and in 
autumn (November) specimens is a beautiful dark steel gray. This 
species was also described by Dr. E. A. Mearns, in 1890 3 from a speci- 
men collected May 8, 1885, at Rillito Station, on the line of the Southern 
Pacific Railroad near Tucson, Ariz. 

Allen's Hare is found in the deserts of southern Arizona and Sonora, 
in the region extending from Phoenix southeastward to the Santa Cat- 
alina and Santa Rita mountains, and thence south- into Mexico almost 
as far as Guaymas. It has been collected in Sonora at Oputo, on the 

1 Am. Field. XL 1 1.. Inly 21, 1894, p. 53. 

- Average of three specimens, including the type, collected by Dr. Mearns. 

3 Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist., II, Feb. 1890, 294-297, 300. 

allen's jack rabbit. 23 

upper Yaqui River, at Magdalena, Ilermosillo, and Ortiz, and probably 
ranges over the greater part of the State. Little is known as to the 
western limits of its range, or tlie injury which it may do to crops when 
the country becomes more thickly settled. Concerning its habits Mi. 
W. W. Price says: 

"This splendid hare is abundant about Tucson and in lower portions 
of the desert belt. It is found both on the gravelly hills bordering the 
Rillito at Fort Lowell, and on the immense mesquite and La/rrea plains 
of Tucson. It is somewhat shy, and hard to secure, except with a rifle. 
One rarely comes upon it suddenly . 1 have never seen it start up with 
the quick, rapid flight of L. texianus. It has a slow, apparently awk- 
ward gait, but its leaps are long, and it gets over the ground with 
surprising rapidity. In color and habits it is so very different from any 
other American hare, the wonder is that it should have so long remained 
undesenbed." l 

» Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist., VII, 1895, pp. 201-202. 


It is well known that jack rabbits are very prolific, and reference 
has already been made to the great numbers found together in some 
parts of California, Idaho, Nevada, and South Dakota. Similar 
instances might be mentioned for southeastern Colorado and central 
Utah. But the best illustrations of extraordinary abundance in lim- 
ited areas can perhaps be found in California. In Modoc County, in 
the northern part of the State, nearly 25,000 jack rabbits were said 
to have been killed in three months on a tract of land only 6 by 8 
miles in extent; this was during the period when the bounty law was 
in force. A still more remarkable case has been recorded in the San 
Joaquin Valley. Some of the early drives near Bakersfield took place 
on a ranch less than 1 square mile in extent. In the first drive, on the 
afternoon of January 2, 1888, 1,126 rabbits were killed; as soon as the 
animals were dispatched, the same field was passed over again and 796 
more killed. A week later, on January 10, there were two drives on the 
same ground, the first resulting in the destruction of 2,000 rabbits, the 
second in more than 3,000; in the latter an adjoining field was also 
driven over. It was estimated that altogether about 8,000 rabbits 
were killed on this ranch in nine days. The 'Kern County Echo' of 
March (8 ?), 1888, stated that a total of about 10,000 rabbits had been 
killed in the drives about Bakersfield from January 1, 1888, up to that 
date, and referred to an estimate that two- thirds of the rabbits killed 
in the drives were females and the average number of young of each of 
these was 3 J. On this basis it was computed that had these 40,000 rab- 
bits lived two months they would have increased to 135,000. When 
it is considered how much injury a single rabbit can do, the damage 
which such an army of rabbits is capable of iuflictiug would hardly be 
less than that caused by a grasshopper plague. 

Surprise is sometimes expressed that jack rabbits are not entirely 
exterminated in regions where they have been mercilessly slaughtered 
for veins, and it might be supposed that animals which live on the 
open plains without even the protection afforded by burrows or holes 
of any kind, could easily be kept within bounds, though they have 
comparatively few natural enemies. But experience has shown that 
this is no easy mailer. Ada County, Idaho, which has been systemat- 
ically killing off the jacks for fifteen years under the bouuty system, 
received more scalps and expended more money for this purpose during 

1895 than in any year since the bounty law first went into effect in 1878. 


Id view of these facts it may be worth while, before considering the 
subject of depredations or the methods used in extermination, to dwell 
somewhat on the way in which these rabbits contrive to bold their own 
under apparently great disadvantages and when exposed to attacks of 
every kind. Naturally their breeding habits and the rate at which the 
animals increase should be considered in this connection. 


The breeding habits of the Old World hare and rabbit are well 
known and have been determined repeatedly by observations on ani- 
mals kept in confinement, so that the period of gestation, the number 
of young in a litter, the number of litters born in a year, and the age 
at which each species begins to breed are known with considerable 
accuracy. According to Sir Richard Owen, the period of gestation in 
the Old World hare {Lepus timidus) and the rabbit {Lepus cuniculus) 
varies from thirty to thirty-one days, and it is probably much the same 
in the case of our native species. The common European rabbit breeds 
from four to eight times a year and the number of young varies from 
3 to 8 in each litter; it begins to breed when only o" months old and 
attains an age of 7 or 8 years. l 

The breeding habits of the various jack rabbits are so much alike 
that the account of those of any one species will serve as an illustration 
of the others. The following description is taken from Dr. Coiies' paper 
on the Prairie Hare in Montana, to which reference has already been 

In the regions where I have studied this hare, the female brings forth in June and 
early July — oftener the latter — and apparently only one litter is produced each 
s<;i-(»ii. The number of young is 5 or 6, as a rule. The form is simply constructed, 
without burrowing, in the grass beneath some low, thick bush or tuft of weeds. 
The young are said to suckle and follow the mother for a month or more. They are 
agile little creatures, even when only a week or two old, and it is only when \< tv 
young that they can be caught by hand. In traveling along the Milk River ('where 
the species was abundant), early in July, 1 had several little ones brought to me, and 
Borne I kept tor a time in a box. * * Though only 5 or 6 inches long, they had 

all the motions and attitudes characteristic of the parents, and made shift to run 
about quite cleverl}*. They could not eat, but some of them could be coaxed to lick 
a little milk. (Bull. Essex Inst., VII, 1875, p. 81.) 

Much still remains to be learned in regard to the number of young 
per annum, the exact time when they are born and particularly the Dum- 
ber of litters per year. The interest in this subject is not restricted to 
the naturalist, for it is a matter of practical importance to the orchardist 
or the farmer to know when his efforts at extermination will be most 

Number of young in a litter, — Compared with the domesticated rabbit 
the jack rabbit does not increase very rapidly. Writers, however, 
differ widely concerning the number of young and the frequency with 
which the different species breed. Most of the statements seem to be 

1 Flower <& Lydekker, Mammals Living and Extinct. 1891, p. 194. 



largely matters of opinion. Mr. H. P. Attwater states that the jack 
rabbit od the southeastern coast of Texas is supposed to have only one 
young at a birth. Dr. J. H. Clark, surgeon of tlie Mexican Boundary 
Survey, notes thai the species found along the Mexican border brings 
forth l)n t 2 or 3 young at a time, and these usually late in the summer. 
The writer, in the 'Kern County Echo,' referred to above, says: "If 
these rabbits breed every six weeks, as is asserted by many, or at the 
outside, three times a year, * * * every farmer in this end of the 
valley without a rabbit-tight fence will be compelled to surrender his 
ranch to the pests." 

As very little positive data seems to have been given by most 
observers, recourse was had to the specimens in the collections of Br. 
C. Hart Merriam, the United States Department of Agriculture, and 
the American Museum of Natural History, 1 to supplement the few 
published notes. Altogether about 50 specimens were available for 
this purpose, consisting first of 15 adult females with young, which had 
been examined in the field and a note made of the number of embryos 
which each contained. These furnish the most accurate data possible 
concerning the uumber of young. The other specimens, 36 in number, 
comprise rabbits less than half grown, and in some cases only a few 
days old, which may be utilized to show roughly the dates of birth. 
The data thus collected are shown in the following tables : 

Table shoiviny number of Jack Babbits in a Utter (based on dissection of females with 



ber of 



Lepus californicus 

Lepus campettris 



Mar. 19, 1894 
May 5,1890 
May 30, 1894 

Jolon, Cal. 

Bridger Pass, Wyoming. 

Forks of Chevenne. South Dakota. 

Lepus melanotis (?)*... 

Lepus texianus 


Dec. 28, 1894 San Antonio, Tex. 
Jan. 24, 1891 Death Valley, Cal. 
Mar. 25, 1891 Do. 


Apr. 16, 1891 j Panamint Mountains, Cal. 

TA ay 1, 1891 Salt Wells Valley, Cal. 

May 8, 1893 Raymond, Cal. 

May 9, 1893 j Do. 

May 25, 1892 Fort Huachuca, Ariz. 

June ? Fort Whipple, Ariz. (Coues). 

July 9, 1890 Blackfoot, Idaho. 

July 31, 1891 25 miles west of Benton, Cal. 









Sept. 5, 1889 San Francisco Mountain. Arizona. 

* Specimen in American Museum of Natural History, New York. 

The number of young as shown by these 15 specimens varies from 1 
to 6 — never morej in fact it is probable that 6 is rather exceptional, 
although found in three of the cases mentioned above. The average 
obtained from the table is between 3 and 4 (3.5), but this result is prob- 
ably not accurate. It will be noticed that all the cases of 3 young or 

'Through the kindness of Dr. J. A. Allen, curator of mammals in the American 
Museum of Natural History, New York, 1 have had an opportunity of examining the 
jack rabbits in that collection. 


less are in the desert region of the Great Basin or Arizona, or else 
represent second or third litters. Dr. K. A. .M earns, United States 
Army, who has examined many specimens in Arizona, states that it is 
very common to find only 1 young and that 2 is the usual Dumber 
in that region. Farther north, however, both in the case of the Prairie 
Hare and the California Jack, 1 is probably not too high an average 
for the first litter, but it is doubtless true that later in the season the 
litters are smaller. 

Time of birth. — The evidence at hand not only fails to substantiate 
the view that jack rabbits breed every six weeks in the year, but I here is 
every reason to believe that each species has a regular breeding season 
and a definite period of rest. Certainly no data have been found which 
show that the young are born in the United States in October, Novem- 
ber, or I )ecember. It is almost impossible to determine the exact dates 
of birth unless the animals are kept in captivity, but the time can be 
estimated approximately. As already stated, the period of gestation 
is about thirty days, so that the specimens mentioned in the last table 
can be utilized for this purpose by adding thirty days to the dates 
given and the results will be within a month, and probably within two 
or three weeks of the true time. Furthermore, it maybe assumed that 
jack rabbits attain their full size (but not weight) in about two months, 
and the size of the adults and of the young at birth being known, the 
measurements of a young animal may be taken as a rough index of 
its age. The following table is based on an examination of 36 young 
rabbits selected for this purpose. Xo specimens were included which 
seemed to be much more than half grown, and nearly all those given 
may be assumed to be less than thirty days old and hence the date of 
birth less than a month earlier in each case. 

The collection contains several specimens which illustrate the size 
ami condition of the young at birth. Perhaps the most interesting are 
4 foetal Prairie Hares collected at Bridger Pass, Wyoming, May 5, 
1890, evidently but a day or two before birth. The average measure- 
ments of these specimens are: Total length, 149 mm ; hind foot, 30""". 
The animals are entirely covered with hair and the eyes are open. In 
one, at least, the front teeth (incisors) are cut, and nearly all the molars 
in the upper jaw are just breaking through the gums. The specimens 
having been preserved in alcohol for four years are somewhat shrunken 
and the total length is probably about 25""" too short. A specimen of 
the Black-tailed Rabbit (Lepus texianus) from Pananiint Valley, Cali- 
fornia, collected January 10, 1891 — evidently only a few days old — meas- 
ures only L92 mm in length, and hind foot 47 mm . Another of about the 
same age from Santa Rosalia, Chihuahua, taken September 21, L893, 
measures 185 U,1U , hind foot, 43 mm . Thus, the young at birth average a 
little less than 200""" in length; the hind foot about 40 or 4.V'"». The 
dates of birth can be approximated from the following table with suf« 
ficient accuracy for present purposes by comparing the difference 



between these measurements and those of any particular specimen 
with the difference obtained by subtracting the measurements of the 
young from those of the adult of that species. 

List of young Jack Babbits, showing time of birth. 

Sp >cles. 

I.ijm.s n Ue ni 

Lepus calif amicus. 





Lepus campestris .. 





Lepus melaiiotist . 








Dot • 


Lepus texianus 











Lepus sp (?) , 





June 12,1892 

Mar. 18, 1892 
Mar. 23, 1894 
Apr. 15, 1894 
Apr. 18,1894 
May 1,1894 
May 23, 1894 
May 24, 1894 
May 28, 1888 


Sept. 10, 1887 

Mar. 4, 

Mar. 9, 1891 

Apr. 12, 

July 6, 

Apr. 26, 1894 
July 31), 1892 
Sept. 3, 1890 

Sept. 17, 

Sept. 17, 

Oct. 11, 

Jan. 10,1891 
Mar. 27, 1891 
Apr. 10,1891 
Apr. 27, 1892 
May 9, 1891 
May 18, 1889 
May 22, 1889 
June 11, 1891 
July 17, 1894 
July 26, 1890 
Sept. 21, 1893 
Jan. 23,1892 
Sept. 30, l»a3 
Aug. 14, 1892 


Total Hind 
length, loot. 

Riliito Creek, Arizona 

San Fernando, Cal 

Jackson, Cal 

Oakdale, Cal 

Chinese Camp, Cal 

Priest Valley, Cal 

Newcastle, \Vyo 


Fort Pierre, S. Dak 

Fort Bui'ord, N. Dak 

San Antonio, Tex 

Onaga, Kans 

San Antonio, Tex 

Vernon, Tex 

Cairo, Kans 

Onaga, Kans 

San Antonio, Tex 



Panarnint Valley, Cal 

Grapevine Mountains, Nev 

Furnace Creek, Cal 

Fort Huachuca, Ariz 

Beaverdam, Ariz 

Phoenix, Ariz 

Carson, N ev 

Lone Pine, Cal 

South Fork, Pitt River, ( al 

Arco, Idaho 

Santa Rosalia, Chihuahua. 

Matagorda, Tex 

Rockport, Tex 

San Luis Potosi, Mexico . . 
















Adult: Length 643"™; 
hind foot, 138. 

; Adult: Length 592 mm ; 
hind foot, 136. 

Adult:: Length 598 mm j 
[ bind foot, 150 mm . 

| One-third grown (?). 

















Adult: Length 590 mm j 
} hind foot, 130. 

Unborn (?). 

Few days old. 

Adult: Length 647 mm ; 
hind foot. 145. 

One-third grown (?). 

* In Merriam collection. tin American Museum of Natural History, New York. 

| Average of 6 specimens from Wyoming. 

It would have been desirable to have a much larger number of speci- 
mens, but the localities and seasons are well distributed and com- 
pensate in a measure for the small series. The earliest date of birth 
indicated in these tables is about the beginning of January in the case 
of three specimens — one taken in Panarnint Valley, in the desert region 
of southern California, the others in southern Texas, at San Antonio 
and Matagorda. The latest dates (September), are represented by speci- 
mens from San Francisco Mountain, Ariz.; Santa Rosalia, Chihuahua, 
and Rockport and San Antonio, Tex. Between these extremes every 
month is represented, but most of the young seem to be born in April, 
May, and June. Specimens born after the 1st of July are from the 
northern part of the Plains, from the Great Basin, from southern Texas, 
from elevated regions, or from the table-land of Mexico. There is a 
noticeable absence of data from the low deserts of southern Arizona 
and southern California, apparently indicating at least a partial period 
Of rest during the hot, dry summer. The tables also fail to show that 


any jack rabbits are born before the 1st of February in California west 
of the Sierra, or before the 1st of April north of Kansas and central 
Nevada. The length of the breeding season in southern regions indi- 
cates that several litters are born each year, but in the northern United 
States the number is probably not more than two, or at the most, three. 

The practical bearing of these generalizations is obvious. Drives or 
hunts organized for the extermination of rabbits should take place 
before the beginning of the breeding season, if they are to accomplish 
the desired end. Just after the young are born the rabbit population 
in a given place may be two or three times what it was six weeks pre- 
vious, and the killing of 1,000 rabbits then would be only one half or 
one third as effective as the destruction of an equal number earlier in 
the season, when all the animals were adults. Drives in southern Cal- 
ifornia should therefore be made in December, January, February, or 
early in March — the earlier the better, if the weather .is favorable; 
later in the season more rabbits may be killed at one time, but a cer- 
tain proportion will be young. In Colorado and Utah, hunts made 
before the 1st of February will accomplish much more than those in 
April, while in Idaho they may be postponed somewhat later. 

Similarly, when killed for game, the rabbits from southern California 
or Arizona are not likely to be in the best condition after the 1st of 
February or March, while those from the northern Plains may be 
shipped up to the 1st of April. On the other hand, the young will 
hardly be in condition for market before October except in southern 
regions, and there the hot weather is likely to interfere with their ship- 



With the settlement of the West the jack rabbit has found that 
several cultivated crops furnish food which is better and more easily 
obtained than the wild plants on which it formerly fed, a fact that is 
too often .demonstrated by the ravages committed in orchards and 
vineyards. Like the cottontail, it seldom ignores a neighboring alfalfa 
held or vegetable garden, and if unmolested can do a surprising 
amount of damage. Melons, cabbage, carrots, alfalfa, cotton, sweet- 
potato vines, young grain, grapevines, and trees suffer most frequently 
from its visits. The damage is most severe, however, in the young 
orchard set in newly broken ground, for here, deprived of its ordinary 
food by the cultivation of the land, the rabbit is forced to seek a new 
supply, and finds it in the tender bark of the young trees. A single 
animal can girdle a large number of trees in a short time, and will often 
injure them so seriously that part of the orchard has to be replanted. 
It destroys both the foliage and bark of young vines, but is especially 
partial to alfalfa and to cabbages. Fortunately, it does not burrow to 
any great extent, and therefore does not injure the roots of trees or 
plants, like the pocket gopher. 

It has been estimated that five jack rabbits consume as much food 
as one sheep ; thus some idea can be formed of the damage which a 
few rabbits may do in the course of a single night. Gomplaints of their 
ravages have been received from numerous correspondents from Texas 
to Washington, and from Kansas to California. Probably all the spe- 
cies are injurious, although no positive evidence against Allen's Kabbit 
is now at hand, simply because so little land in the area which it 
inhabits happens to be under cultivation. Most of the injury is done 
by the California Jack Rabbit and the wide-ranging Texan Hare (Lepas 

Mr. II. P. Attwater states that jack rabbits are common in Aransas 
County, Tex., along the Gulf coast, and do so much damage that many 
of t lie smaller truck farms are protected by rabbit-proof fences. In the 
northern part of the same State Mr. W. J. Crowley, of Grapevine, Tar- 
rant County, reports that they cause considerable injury to grain, and 
in fields of wheat, oats, and cotton often cut paths 12 inches wide and 
300 or loo yards in length, and destroy patches as large as an ordinary 
sized room. Mr. A. Yogt wrote from Willow Point, in the neighboring 
comity of Wise, under date of December 6, 1889: "The damage done 



to my old orchard of a thousand peach trees by rabbits [Lepus gylvati- 
tm and L. melanotis] is 50 per cent. Three hundred trees are barked 

all around and below the bud, so that if they come out again they will 
be seedlings. Whitewashing the trunks does no good, as the rabbits 

take the whitewash and bark together." 
When irrigation was first begun near Lamar, in southeastern ( 'olorado, 

the rabbits were attracted from the surrounding country, and caused 
much damage in the alfalfa and young orchards. I hints were arranged 
on a large scale to kill off the pests, and proved so successful that 
regular 'rabbit days' have been celebrated for the last two or three 
years at Las Animas and at Lamar. 

In Idaho much difficulty has been experienced with jack rabbits at 
the experiment station at Nampa, Canyon County. They are partic- 
ularly destructive to oats, wheat, barley, clover, vegetables, and fruit 
trees. Mr. T. T. Butledge, assistant director, states that entire crops 
of grain and alfalfa are sometimes destroyed if small in acreage and 

Mr. J. B. Cure, of Rudy, Fremont County, writes under date of Sep- 
tember 10, 1895: --Jack rabbits have done a great deal of damage in 
this part of the country to grain and lucern, and are increasing very 
fast. * * * Some of the farmers have lost from 8 to 10 acres of 
grain by rabbits this season." 

Complaints have also been received from the State of Washington 
from Sunnyside, Yakima County; from Davenport, Lincoln County, and 
from Prescott, Wallawalla County. Mr. Conrod, of Davenport, wrote 
on December 19, 1887, that the jack rabbits were causing serious injury 
to grain, apple and plum trees, raspberry vines, carrots, and cabbage. 

Mr. Oscar X. Wheeler, of Prescott, writing under date of August 12, 
189o, says: i; Jack rabbits (white tailed) have done a vast amount of 
damage to orchards, vineyards, and grain fields, but are not nearly so 
numerous now as they were three or four years ago. when they destroyed 
bearing orchards. Timber claims, planted in black locust that were 
large and old enough to 'prove up' on. were destroyed by them. Ten 
pie who had hay stacked had to fence it to keep them off. I have 
known large stacks of hay destroyed by them.*' 

In Utah, Mr. W. (i. Nowers wrote in February, 1887. concerning the 
Black-tailed Jack Babbit {Lepus texiawus) in Beaver County: k -At 
times its ravages are enormous; sweeping down from the bench lands 
and sage plains in myriads, it devours entire fields of cereals. Lasl 
year in this and adjoining counties on either side its depredations 
amounted to several thousand dollars. Last year some farmers in this 
county lost their entire crop of small grain from this source alone. At 
Minersville not more than one-third of the crop was harvested; at 
Adamsville nearly the total crop was taken: at Greenville one-half of 
the crop was destroyed: and here (Beaver) about the same. This i< 
also a fair representation of the ravages in Iron County south of U8." 


In California jack rabbits are most abundant on some of the richest 
lands in the State, and they have been particularly injurious to the 
vineyards and crops in the southern coast counties and in the San 
Joaquin Valley. The following account of their ravages in west- 
ern Fresno County, by Mr. Alvah A. Eaton, gives some idea of the 
extraordinary numbers in the central part of the San Joaquin Valley, 
and shows how a scanty food supply drives the rabbits to the culti- 
vated fields. Mr. Eaton says: 

I arrived in Fresno, Cal.. April 1, 1890, after what was known as a wet year, 
i.e.. rain enough had fallen to sprout wheat and raise a fair crop without irrigation. 
These conditions were favorable for various 'tar' and 'alkali' weeds (species of 
Madia) which grew so luxuriantly that year that they prevented the heading 
of wheat in several sections of the Riverdale country. The next year was dry, and 
fchere was no wild feed that the rabbits could get, so they flocked to the wheat 
fields, feeding on the wheat and hiding and breeding in the weeds. Many were 
destroyed by burning the weeds, and by gunners, but it did not seem to make much 
difference. To make matters worse, there had been a bounty of $5 a scalp placed on 
coyotes, and these were mercilessly hunted, and the rabbits and squirrels throve in 

During the summer of 1891 it was no uncommon thing to start 1,000 rabbits out of 
a patch of weeds, and in one patch about a quarter of a mile long there were at 
least 5,000. The winter of 1891-92 was also 'dry/ no feed springing up till late in 
February. The rabbits were driven by hunger to the alfalfa fields. They gnawed 
the tops of the stools to the roots, and even dug them out with their feet and ate 
them. One 10-acre field of my brother's was more thickly covered with their drop- 
pings than I ever saw a pasture covered with those of sheep. 

Such was the state of affairs in the spring of 1892 just previous to 
the four great Fresno County < drives,' which occurred in February and 
March, resulting in the destruction of more than 43,000 rabbits. 

The damage which jack rabbits have done has been eiiormous, but it 
is very difficult to obtain reliable statistics. The ' Visalia Delta ' of 
February 16, 1888, estimated that the annual loss in Tulare County 
amounted to more than $600,000. During the last six or seven years, 
however, owing to the increased acreage under cultivation and the 
vigor with which 'drives' have been conducted, the rabbits have been 
kept pretty well in check. 

The loss on account of the depredations of rabbits in Victoria, 
Australia, for the ten years, 1878-1888, has been estimated at about 
$15,000,000 (£3,000,000). 1 


The cost of properly protecting trees aud vines is often a large item 
in the expense of setting a new orchard or vineyard. Several methods 
are commonly employed, but the one which is most effective, and the 
only one which can be used for crops of all kinds, is the rabbit proof 
fence. Babbits which succeed in getting into the inclosure maybe 
shot or poisoned. 

1 Journ. Soc. Arts, London, XXXVII, No. 1879, Nov. 23, 1888, p. 22. 


Tf the orchard or field is to be protected as a whole, it should be 
inclosed by a low fence so built as to leave no holes large enough to 
admit a rabbit. While the animals could easily leap over a low fence 
they are not likely to under ordinary circumstances. 1 In southern 
California experience lias shown that a fence about 2 feet high affords 
ample protection under ordinary circumstances, and many vineyards 
and orchards are surrounded by lath fences 2 to :U feet in height. In the 
rabbit-infested region near Bakersfield, Gal., the fences are built some- 
what higher than usual — about 5 feet — and are made of laths securely 
fastened with wire, which is stretched between posts set 15 or 20 feet 
apart (see corral in PL III, p. 47). Several kinds are in use, but in any 
case the fence should be built well down to the ground, and may be still 
further protected by running a barbed wire along the surface of the 
ground, or by turning a furrow against the bottom to prevent the 
animals from crawling under. A horizontal board fence may be ren- 
dered rabbit proof by nailing slats between the boards or by placing 
the lower boards closer together. Fencing material consisting of laths 
interwoven with wire is sold in large rolls and can be had in some 
localities ready for stringing to the posts. Woven wire fences are also 
made especially for keeping out rabbits. One of the best fences is 
made of galvanized wire netting with 1 J-inch meshes stretched between 
posts which are set in the ground at convenient distances. The netting 
should be fastened with staples on the inside of the posts, and two 
barbed wires, with barbs 2J inches apart, fastened to the outside of the 
posts, one just clearing the ground and the other an inch above the top 
of the netting. The barbed wires will tear any rabbit that tries to 
scratch under or jump over the fence. If desirable, a third wire may 
be stretched a foot or two above the top of the netting, which will 
make a fence high enough to keep out cattle. 2 

In regions having a heavy snowfall it may be necessary to build the 
fences somewhat higher, as the rabbits, taking advantage of the drifts, 
can oftentimes clear a low fence. This difficulty has been experienced 
in Idaho, and some orchardists have used a combination fence made of 
paling 4 feet high protected at the bottom outside by a strip of wire 
netting 2 feet in width. Ordinary fences made of laths or paling can 
not be relied on if wide spaces are left between the slats, as the rabbits 
can then gnaw a hole large enough to gain entrance to the inclosqre. 
Prof. Charles P. Fox, director of the experiment station at Moscow, 
Idaho, suggests that such fences can be still further protected by dip- 
ping the slats in a warm solution of silicate of soda or protecting them 

'It may be interesting to note that a jack rabbit lias been seen to clear a 7-foot 
fence at a single leap. Mr. Charles Payne, of Wichita, Kans.. had several annuals 
confined in an inclosnre of this height and actually saw one or more escape by 
jumping over the fence. (Am. Field. XLII. Sept. L>!>. 1894, p. 295. ) 

- Wickson, California Fruits. 1889, p. ">:'>: 2d cd.. 1891, p. 577. 

8615— No. 8 3 


with sand paint. He also reports that a substitute for fencing is now 
being tried at the substation at Xampa, Idaho. Eabbits are very trou- 
blesome at this place, and in past years have destroyed almost the 
entire crop of alfalfa. Last spring, instead of building an expensive 
rabbit-proof fence, a band of alfalfa 30 feet in width was sowed around 
the field, which was inclosed simply with three strings of barbed wire, 
the idea being that jack rabbits, which usually feed around the edges 
of the field, will obtain sufficient food from the outside strip and not 
molest that within the fence. He says "we can grow rabbit feed in 
the form of alfalfa cheaper than anything else." 

In Australia fences have proved the best means of protection, and 
many miles of rabbit fences have been built by the government. One 
fence, running from Narromine, on the Macquarie Eiver, to Bourke, on 
the Darling River, and thence to Barringun, is 291 miles in length and 
cost on an average £82 per mile. It has recently been extended to 
Corowa, making the total length 703 miles. Another fence has been 
built from the Murray Biver northward along the western boundary 
of New South Wales for a distance of nearly 34G miles, at an average 
cost of a little over £75 per mile. These fences were built of 17-gauge 
wire netting 42 inches in width and having 1| or 1J inch meshes. The 
fences are looked after by 'boundary riders, 7 who live in huts about 
30 miles apart. Altogether the government has erected 1,049 miles of 
fencing in New South Wales, while the amount built by individuals 
has been estimated at about 15,000 miles. 1 

In Queensland about 675 miles of fences have been built by the 
government 2 and in New Zealand £12,530 have been expended for the 
South Canterbury fence. 


Where the expense of a fence is too great, young trees may be pro- 
tected by wrapping the stems with strips of burlap, gunny sacking, or 
coarse cloth an inch or two wide. These strips should be securely tied 
at the top and bottom. Small cylinders of wire netting, heavy paste- 
board, or other material are sometimes used, and a device known as 
the 'tule-tree protector,' made of the dried rushes or tules, which grow 
so abundantly in the San Joaquin River swamps in California, has been 
patented for this express purpose. Recently cylinders made of thin 
strips of yucca wood (Yucca arborcscens), with the edges fastened 
together by wire, have been placed on the market. They come in sev- 
eral sizes and are readily put in position. While they shield the stems 
from the sun their value in protecting the trees from jack rabbits is 
open to question. 


Some orehardists advocate painting the trunks of the trees with 
mixtures distasteful to rabbits. Whitewashing is said to prove effect- 

'CoghlaDj WealtL and Progress of Now South Wales, 1894, Vol. I, p. 356. 
** ear Hook of Australia, 18 ( J4, p. 145. 


ive in borne cases, particularly if a mixture of glue and copperas is 
added to the solution. The mixture is made as follows: Take a bushel 
of unslaked lime and add sufficient water, then add two pounds of 
dissolved glue, and stir in thoroughly one pound of copperas. Another 
mixture which is said to work well consists of one pound of commercial 
aloes with four gallons of water. A tea made by steeping quassia 
chips is also used. 1 A combination of potash and clay is occasionally 
employed, and is mixed so as to have a consistency like that of thick 
cream. A writer in the 'American Garden' recommends rubbing the 
bark thoroughly with blood or grease, and asserts that rabbits will not 
touch trees that have been treated in this way. He adds: "In the 
case of trees which have been gnawed or peeled, the wound should be 
covered with a cloth on which is spread a little grafting wax. This not 
only excludes the air, but also helps the injured pari to heal." The 
New Zealand department of agriculture has recently recommended a 
paint made of cow dung, clay, and soot and slightly flavored with tar 
or spirits of tar for protecting the stems of trees from rabbits.- Too 
much reliance should not be placed on smearing the trunks of trees, and 
no mixture should be used which contains petroleum in any form. Blood 
or grease will soon cease to be effective and it becomes necessary to 
repaint the trees in a short time. 

1 Wicksi.n. /. e., p, 553; 2d ed., p. 577. 

2 Leaflets lor Gardeners, etc., Xo. 10, June, 1895, p. 8, 



The destruction of rabbits lias been so carefully investigated in 
Australia that it may be well to refer briefly to the conclusions arrived 
at by the Royal Commission which was appointed to inquire into 
schemes for the extermination of rabbits in Australasia. In a procla- 
mation dated August 31, 1887, the government of New South Wales 
offered a reward of £25,000 for the effectual extermination of rabbits 
by any method or process not previously known in the colony, but three 
years later a report was made that "after prolonged and careful study 
of all the proposals which have been submitted, the commission finds 
that no scheme has been propounded for the extermination of rabbits 
which complies with the terms of the proclamation.'" 1 


The question of introducing infectious diseases was also carefully 
considered, but while the commission "found no evidence to warrant 
the belief that any known disease can be so employed as to exterminate 
rabbits," it suggested that many diseases would probably be fouud 
useful auxiliaries in keeping the rabbit plague within manageable 
proportions. 2 

The success of disease as a means of destruction depends on two 
conditions: (1) It must be fatal to the rabbits; (2) it must not injure 
man or domesticated animals. The Australian experiments were mainly 
confined to the effects of (1) chicken cholera, (2) the so-called 'Tin- 
tiuallogy disease/ (3) diseases caused by the bladder worm (Cwnu- 
rus), and (4) by rabbit scab (Sarcoptes cunicuJi). It was found that 
while the rabbits were easily killed by putting microbes of chicken 
cholera in their food the disease did not spread freely from infected to 
healthy animals. The Tintinallogy disease takes its name from a sta- 
tion on the east bank of the Darling River near Menindie, New South 
Wales, where a peculiar affection was noticed among the rabbits in 
September 1887. The principal symptoms are erection of the fur, begiu- 

■New South Wales Roy. Coimn. Inquiry Externa. Rabbits in Australasia, Final 
Report. 1890, p, 11. 
2 L. c., p. 3. 


ningon the head; slight discharge from the eyes and nose, lasting three 
or four days; emaciation, followed by loss of power in the hind Legs, 
and finally death with convulsions in about three weeks. Experiments 
were made with this disease on a large scale, but were only partially 
successful. In addition to the bladder worm and rabbit scab, experi- 
ments have been made in New Zealand with rabbit measles (Cysticercus 
fisiformis) and liver coccidium (Coocidium oviforme). The latter para- 
site is injurious to man, and its introduction is therefore dangerous. 
Diseases caused by parasites do not offer much hope as a successful 
method of destroying rabbits, as their effects at best can be only indi- 
rect by bringing about a condition of general weakness and emaciation, 
and thereby rendering the animal more subject to attacks of other dis- 
eases. A full account of these experiments will be found in the report 
of Prof. A. P.W.Thomas on The Rabbit Nuisance in New Zealand, 
1888, and the Report of the New South Wales Royal Commission on the 
Introduction of Contagious Diseases amongst Rabbits, Sydney, 1889. 

Further inquiry into the epidemic and parasitic diseases of rabbits 
was advised by the New South Wales commission, and it may be added 
that this means of destruction seems to promise better success in this 
country, where large numbers of jack rabbits are destroyed every few 
years by epidemics. 


No less than 1,45G persons submitted schemes to the Australian 
commission for the destruction of rabbits by methods other than dis- 
ease. The various schemes were arranged under the following heads: 1 

1. Comrnereial utilization. 7. Miscellaneous, including firing the country, 

2. Fencing. cutting off from food and water, hunting 

3. Poisons. and trapping parties, etc. 
1. Natural enemies. 8. Indefinite methods. 

5. Traps. 9. General methods. 

(>. Electricity. 10. Methods involving special legislation. 

A method which has been tried with some success in New South 
Wales, consists in capturing a number of rabbits alive and allowing the 
males to escape after killing all the females. As soon as the males 
begin to predominate in numbers, it is said that they persecute the 
females with their attentions to such an extent as to prevent tliein from 
breeding, and also kill the young that happen to be born. 2 

The Australian commissioners did not favor commercial utilization, 
because "the principle of making rabbits a profitable article of com 
merce is universally condemned by practical men interested in their 
destruction, on the ground that it leads to their conservation." This 
method, however, has recently been brought to notice and seems to 
be one of the most promising (see pp. 05-7^ . 

Final Report, 1890, pp. 3-4. 
•Nature, XXXIX, March 21. 1889, i>i». 198-494, 


The question of fences has already been discussed under the head of 
prevention of injury to crops (pp. 33-34). Poisons, bounties, and natural 
enemies will !>e considered in detail further on. The other schemes 
were found to be either impracticable or unworthy of recommendation 
for use on a large scale. 

The most successful traps used in Kew South Wales have been yards 
or inclosures made of rabbit-proof fence with openings which allow the 
rabbits to enter but prevent their getting out. Such traps have been 
found most efficient in dry seasons, when food and water are scarce. 
Several methods of using* electricity were submitted, but all were 
found impracticable. Firing might be employed in some cases, but 
is attended with more or less danger. Cutting off the animals from 
food can only be used under certain favorable conditions. 

Hunting and trapping parties have not accomplished much in Aus- 
tralia, but in certain parts of the United States a modification of this 
method has proved to be the most successful means of destroying large 
numbers of jack rabbits. (See chapter on rabbit drives, pp. 47-64.) 


In this country poison has been used to some extent, although less 
successfully than the gun and club. As none of the jack rabbits bur- 
row, the poison must be scattered about on the surface of the ground 
where the rabbits are likely to find it, but the bait should not be 
placed where domesticated animals or poultry can eat it. Promiscuous 
scattering of poison in the orchard and vineyard is not to be recom- 
mended under ordinary circumstances, and when it can not be placed 
in holes or out of the reach of animals for which it was not intended 
the danger is greatly increased. The importance of this fact can hardly 
be overestimated, and every possible precaution should be taken in 
using poison for jack rabbits. In Australia experiments have been 
made with strychnine, phosphorus, arsenic, corrosive sublimate, lead 
salts, tartar emetic, barium carbonate, and sulphate of iron. Arsenic 
may be simply sprinkled on any food which will attract the rabbits, 
but it is more effectual when dissolved and the bait soaked in the 
solution. Paris green, London purple, lead salts, tartar emetic, barium 
carbonate, and sulphate of iron have not been found sufficiently active 
for killing rabbits, and corrosive sublimate has a powerful acrid and 
metallic taste, which may render it unpalatable to them. 

Of all the poisons mentioned above, strychnine is the most effective. 
As the ordinary crystals of strychnine are almost insoluble in water, 
the sulphate should be used when the poison is to be dissolved. It 
may be placed on bits of watermelon, cantaloupe, or vegetables of 
which the rabbits are fond, and scattered around the orchard or vine- 
yard. Babbits are said to be attracted by a mixture composed of half 
a teaspoonful of powdered strychnine, two teaspoonfuls of fine salt, and 
four of granulated sugar, thoroughly shaken up and placed in small 

poison. 39 

piles on a board. 1 Dr. John Strentzel, of Martinez, Cal., recommends 
mixing the strychnine with grain which has been well sweetened 
with oil of anise or rhodium and placing it where it will be readily 
found by the animals. Mr. A. Plnmley, of Byron, Cal., uses dry pul- 
verized strychnine with wheat or barley thai lias been soaked in 
water and slightly wanned. Sugar and flour are added in suitable 
quantities and the poison carefully mixed with the grain and spread 
out to dry. The addition of sugar and flour makes the strychnine 
adhere to the grain, and the mixture is reported highly successful. 
Maj. G. I\ Meiriam, of Twin Oaks, Cal., recommends soaking the wheat 
in water containing strychnine. The wheat is barely covered with 
water and allowed to soak until the grain is soft, and then dried as 
thoroughly and quickly as possible. A handful of this dry wheat 
is placed among the vines or scattered in the trails made by the 

Phosphorus is advocated by many persons, but it must be thoroughly 
soaked into the grain; if simply deposited on the outside and not cov- 
ered with some protective material it will oxidize rapidly. Wheat 
soaked in water containing phosphorus is highly recommended. It 
should be used in the following proportion: One hundred pounds of 
grain. 1 pound of phosphorus, 1 pound of sugar, 1 ounce of oil of rho- 
dium to 9 gallons of water. The mixture should be heated to the 
boiling point and allowed to stand over night, then enough flour added 
to make it a paste. 1 

In Australia preparations of phosphorus have been more generally 
used. A writer in the * Kyneton Guardian' gives the following directions 
for preparing the poison: Four aud one-half ounces of phosphorus are 
put into a gallon of boiling water and kept boiling for thirty minutes, 
while the phosphorus is thoroughly stirred. The liquid should be 
passed through a fine strainer. Fourteen or 15 pounds of malt are 
then stiired in and allowed to boil slowly for fifteen minutes, and 
finally 3 pounds of flour and 4 pounds of sugar are added. The 
mixture is sown like turnip seed, in furrows plowed here and there in 
rabbit infested places. 

Another method of preparing phosphorus, known as the 'Lascelles 
process,' "consists in (1) dissolving the phosphorus in bisulphide of 
carbon, (2) mixing the solution so obtained in a churn with flour paste 
so as to form an emulsion, and (3) coating the wheat in a revolving 
cylinder with this emulsion. The solution of phosphorus is made and 
kept under water, so as to prevent spontaneous combustion. This 
method has the advantages of facility and quickness, of the even dis- 
tribution of the poison over the grain, and also of the prevention of 
volatilization by the coating with Hour paste." 

1 Wickson, California Fruits. 1889, p. 564 : 2d ed., 1891, \>. 578. 

-Final Report, Royal Comm. Enquiry into Schemes Kxterm. Rabbits Australasia, 

1890. p. 6. 



Bounties have been paid on jaek rabbits in five of the Western 
States — California, Idaho, Oregon, Texas, and Utah — but the amounts 
have been small as compared with similar expenditures for the destruc- 
tion of other animals. In Oregon, Texas, and Utah the rates were 
fixed by State laws, but in California the bounties varied in different 
counties. Bounties on rabbits have been even less successful, so far 
as extermination is concerned, than those offered for coyotes, prairie 
dogs, pocket gophers, or ground squirrels. 


One the main objects of bounties in California, particularly those 
offered by the counties in the San Joaquin Valley, was to encourage 
rabbit drives, and in some cases the payments were almost sufficient 
to defray such expenses. Eight counties have offered bounties during 
recent years, namely, Butte, Colusa, Fresno, Modoc, San Bernardino, 
Shasta, Sutter, and Tulare. In the case of Sutter County, and possibly 
one or two others, the returns include amounts expended for pocket 
gophers and ground squirrels. Bounties are seldom offered on rabbits 
alone, and it is difficult to obtain the amounts expended for each 

A rate of 10 cents per scalp was paid both by Butte and Colusa 
counties — the highest rate paid for any considerable length of time. 
In Butte County it was maintained from January 7, 1887, to February 
1, 1890; in Colusa, from February 10, 1888, to September 12, 1892. The 
bounty was then reduced to 4 cents and continued to February 1, 1894. 

In Fresno the bounty was offered merely to defray the expenses of 
the rabbit drives, and was not paid unless at least 1,000 pairs of ears 
were presented at one time. The total amount expended was about 
$500, indicating that more than 33,000 scalps were received. 

In the spring of 1880 the supervisors of Modoc County offered 3 
cents apiece for rabbit scalps, and in three months expended $826.77 
for 27,559 scalps. 1 

The bounty offered by San Bernardino County about two years after 
the passage of the coyote scalp act of 1891, is unique from the fact that 
its main object was to offset the effect of the State bounty on coyotes. 
The ordinance went into effect August 25, 1893, and expired by limita- 
tion on December 6 of the same year. It provided that the rabbits 
must be killed within 2 miles of a cultivated orchard, nursery, vineyard, 
or alfalfa field not less than 1 acre in extent, and the scalps must be 
deposited within thirty days with a justice of the peace of the town- 
ship in which the animals were killed. 

Tulare County expended $5,000 for bounties on ground squirrels 
previous to November 1894, besides paying $3,000 for bounties on rab- 

Forest and Stream, XXVII, August 5, 1886, p. 26. 


bits. The l Los Angeles Times ' states that no Toss than 4,000 scalps were 
secured in the drive near Traver, March G, L892, and as many as 5,391 
have been deposited by a single person at one time. The ordinance 
under which these bounties were paid will serve as an illustration of 
those in other counties. It was passed October 31, L891, and reads as 

< Ordinance No. it;. 

The board of supervisors of the County of Tulare, State of California, <lo ordain 
as follows : 

Section 1. [Provides for a bounty of 2{ cents on ground squirrel scalps. ) 

Sec. 2. That a bounty of one and one-half ($0.0l£) cents be paid by this county 

on each and every scalp taken from a jack rabbit, containing both ears of said dead 
animal, killed or destroyed by any person or persons in this county, upon the said 
person or persons so killing or destroying said animal depositing said scalp or scalps 
with any notary public, justice of the peace, or any officer authorized by law to take 
affidavits, and certify claim with said affidavit, together with affidavit of such officer 
that said scalp or scalps have been destroyed by fire to this board. 

SEC. 3. That said bounty shall be paid by the county until such time when the 
funds set apart for that purpose shall be exhausted, or until this ordinance be 
repealed or rescinded by this board. 

Sec. 4. That this ordinance take effect and be in force from and after the 31st day 
of October, 1891. 

Sec. 5. [Provides for publication of the ordinance.] 

So far as figures are available, the amount expended in California is 
about $10,000, although no returns have been received from San 
Bernardino County. The amounts disbursed are shown below : 

Table shoiviny expenditures for Bounties by Counties in California. 

, iu , m ,vi„ force. 3-WjjB-JJJ.rijjS* 


35, 000 

Jan. 7, 1887. to Feb. 1,1890 

n . \I-Yb. 10, 1888, to Sept. 12, 1892 

Colusa '/Sept. 12, 1892, to Feb. 1, 1894 

Fresno * 33, 000 

Modoc Three months, 1886 27,559 j 

Ban Bernardino Auj;. 25 to Dec. 6, 1893 

Shasta May 11, 1891, to Mar. 1,1892 

Sutler Sept. 25, 1893, to Julv 9.1894 

Tulare Oct. 31, 1891, to Nov.", 1894.' "200,000 





$3, 500. 00 
4, 800. 00 

500. oo 

820. 77 


342. 5.') 
1 3, 040. 42 
3, 000. 00 

r Estimated from amounts expended. 

f Includes also bounties on gophers and ground squirrels, at 5 Oi nt- per scalp. 

Two eounties in Idaho — Ada aud Canyon — are now paying bounties 
on jack rabbits at the rate of 3 cents per scalp. Mr. Charles 8. Kings- 
ley, county clerk, has kindly supplied the figures for the expendi- 
tures in Ada County, and wrote, under date of August -I. L895, as 


u The county began the payment of bounty July, L878, and from that 
time until October, 1880, paid $8, 129.75 j from the latter date to the 


8th day of July, L895, the county paid the sum of $22,1)63.69, making 
an aggregate bf $31,093.44. 

11 1 have myself been much interested in these figures, and find that 
daring the 33 quarters embraced in the first period stated the average 
quarterly amount was $232.27, while during the 35 quarters embraced 
in the last period the average quarterly payment amounted to $850.50. 
It is noteworthy that during 1887 (latter part), 1888, 1889, and part of 
L890 the .average quarterly payments dropped to approximately $100. 
This was due to the very great destruction of rabbits during the winter 
of 1887 by extreme cold. It is thus seen that the average has been 
growing larger, notwithstanding the bounty, and the figures for the 
last quarter are $2,520.65 5 that, with the current quarter, are of course 
the heavy quarters of the year, and it is possible the total average per 
quarter for the year [1895] will not exceed $1,000. These figures 
seem to indicate that the bounty is not a success in the matter of 
exterminating the pests," — and yet at the rate of 3 cents apiece more 
than 1,000,000 rabbits must have been destroyed. 


Under the session laws of Oregon, 1887, a bounty varying from 1 to 
5 cents was offered for jack rabbits. The law specially stated that this 
bounty was to be paid for the Black-tailed Eabbit, and none seems to 
have been paid on the Plains Jack Eabbit (Lepus campestris), which 
occurs in the same region. During the years 1888, 1889, and 1890, Lake 
County paid bounties on 54,000 rabbit scalps at the rate of 1 cents each, 
amounting in all to $2,160. 


In April, 1891, the legislature of Texas passed "An act to protect 
stock raisers, farmers, and horticulturists," which provided — 

That hereafter when any person shall kill any wolf, either coyote or lobo, pan- 
ther, Mexican lion, tiger, leopard, wild-cat, catamount, or jack rabbit, he shall be 
paid in the county in which he kills such animal or animals the sum of two dollars 
for each coyote, and the sum of one dollar for each wild-cat or catamount, and the 
sum of five dollars for each panther, lobo, Mexican liou, tiger, or leopard, and the 
sum of one dollar per dozen for jack rabbits, and fifty cents per dozen for prairie 
dogs so killed. 1 

The sum of $50, 000 was appropriated and expended in carrying out 
the provisions of this law. Unfortunately it has not been possible to 
obtain the amounts paid for each of the animals named, so that the 
total bounty on jack rabbits can not be stated. The burden of this 
expenditure fell so heavily on some of the southwestern counties of the 
State that the law was repealed in March, 1895, and a new act substi- 
tuted which made the payment of bounties optional with the counties, 
and omitted jack rabbits and prairie dogs from the list of proscribed 

1 General Laws of the State of Texas, 22d legislature, 1891, p. 160, chap. 100, sec. 1. 


Section 2114 of the laws of Utah for 1890 authorized the county 
courts to offer bounties for the destruction of jack rabbits and certain 
other injurious animals. On September I. 1893, a bounty of 5 rents 
per scalp was placed on rabbits by the court of Boxelder County. This 
rate was maintained until January 28, L895, when it was reduced to 2 
cents per scalp. The county clerk reports that up to December 31, 
1805, bounties had been paid on 111 coyotes at 50 cents each, while 
more than |500 had been expended for rabbits, as follows: 

Table showing expenditures for Bounties m Utah. 



of scalps. 

Rate per 








.. Jan.l-Sept I. 1803 

.. Sept. 1. is»:ujan. 23, 1895 

...1 Jan. 28 l)«c. 31, 1895 

9, 179 


57. 26 


12. 758 

|530 5:', 

Bounties represent the only expenditures made by counties or States 
in this country for the destruction of rabbits. As shown above, the 
totals, including the State bounty of Texas, which was paid on several 
other species of animals, aggregate about $100,000, an amount which 
is insigniticeut when compared with that spent in Australia. 


The common rabbit of Europe (Lepus cuniculus) was introduced into 
Australia about the year 1804 at Barwon Park, near (ieelong, Victoria. 1 
In the course of a few years it spread over Victoria and westward into 
South Australia, crossing the Murray River in 1878. The following 
year legislative action for the destruction of the pest was inaugurated 
by South Australia, and the example was soon followed by Victoria, 
New South Wales, New Zealand, Queensland, and Tasmania. No less 
than 10, 182,539 rabbits were destroyed in New South Wales alone iy 
1887. 2 But in addition to the direct payment of bounties, the govern- 
ments of the colonies have expended large sums for poisons, for experi- 
ments on various methods of destruction, and have built several thousand 
miles of rabbit-proof fences. As shown by the following table, the total 
amount expended up to L888 was £1,003,800 (more than 15,000,000) in 
addition to £00,204 (nearly 8500,000) for fences. 

•According to Hon. .lames M. Morgan, formerly United states consul-genera] at 
Melbourne, rabbits were first introduced in western Victoria abort L80O, for the 
purpose of sport. (Consular Reports for Dec., 1886, XX. ]> 182. 

- Circular on Rabbit Destruction. Committee New South Wales Comm. Pastoral 
and Agr. Ass., Jan., 1888. 



Government Expenditures for Destruction of Rabbits in Australia and Xeiv Zealand, 

1S79-18SS. * 





New South Wales 

1883 1888 

t £732, 23G 


128, 595 


18, 453 

82, 882 

£23.997 also expended for fences. 
.£59,737 for fences. 


I'pto Dec, 1887 



On unoccupied Crown lands. 
£12,530 also expended for South 
Canterbury fence. 



May, 1883-Jan.,1888.. 


1, 093, 890 

Add £96,264 for fences. 

* Progress Kept. New South Wales Royal Com. Inquiry Externa. Rabbits, 4890, App. II. pp. 190-192. 

t Hon. J. H. Carruthers, Minister for Lands, gives £831,457 4s. Id., as the total amount expended from 
the passage of the rabbit act in 1883 to June 30, 1890. The figures for each year are less in nearly 
every case than in the statement quoted above, but represent the sums disbursed " solely for the pur- 
pose of attempting to get rid of the rabbit." From July 1. 1890, to December 31, 1894, the expenditure 
amounted to only £22,761, which was devoted to fences. (Kept. Conference Rabbit Rest in New South 
^Vales 1895 n 6) 

♦Total expenditures up to 1894 (largely for fences), £136,484 8s.- (Year Book Australia for 1894, 
p. 145.) 


Birds of prey seldom molest the larger hares. Among those which 
are known to feed on jack rabbits are the barn owl (Strix pratincola), 
Audubon's caracara (Polyborus cheriway), prairie falcon (Falco mexi- 
canus), and western red-tailed hawk 5 but remains of the Texan rabbit 
have been found in the stomach of the red-tail in only three cases 
among a large number examined. The western horned owl (Bubo 
virginianus subarcticus) and the golden eagle (Aqnila chryscetos) should 
also be mentioned. The marsh hawk (Circus hudsonius) occasionally 
attacks rabbits, and Mr. J. Alden Loring shot one at Yernon, Tex., while 
in the act of killing a young jack rabbit which weighed a pound and a 

The mammals in this list are likewise few in number, the most 
important being the coyote (Canis latrans), gray wolf (Cams nubi'lus), 
long-eared fox (Vulpes macrotis), gray fox (Urocyon), and wild-cat 
(Lynx). Skunks, weasels, and badgers may occasionally destroy the 
young, but seldom, if ever, the full-grown hares. The badger, an inde- 
fatigable hunter of the ground squirrel and the prairie dog, is too slow 
of foot to overtake the jack rabbit in a fair race, and is unable to cor- 
ner him in a hole, as he can a burrowing animal. 

On the Great Plains the gray wolf undoubtedly destroys large num- 
bers of jack rabbits in the region from Colorado northward. In Mon- 
tana, according to Dr. George Bird Grinnell, 1 "The abundance or 
scarcity of the prairie hare in any district depends almost altogether on 
the number of wolves to be found in the same tract of country. Where- 
all the coyotes and gray wolves have been killed or driven off, the hares 
exist in great numbers; but where the former are abundant, the latter 
are seldom seen. We saw none near the Missouri River, where the 
bun';i Iocs, and consequently the wolves, were numerous; but at Camp 

Ludlow's Kept. Reconnaissance Yellowstone Nat. Park, 1870., p. 


Baker, where there were scarcely any wolves, the hares were very 

The coyote is a most effective rabbit destroyer and accomplishes 
more good in this way than he usually receives credit for. II is true 
value, however, is beginning to be appreciated by fruit growers. The 
following notes contributed by .Mr. Vernon l>ailc\ show how coyotes 
sometimes prey on jack rabbits. Mr. Bailey says: 

Iu trapping on the greasewood Hats about Keltou, in northern Utah, during tin 
Latter part of October j L888, I noticed in many places that jack rabbits (Lepu* 
texiaiuis) had been killed and eaten by Home animal. The feet, hits of skin, and fur 
were usually all that remained, hut I Immediately attributed this destruction t*> 
Coyotes, and later on was able to verity the conclusion by finding remains of rabbits 
surrounded by fresh coyote tracks. In a walk of a mile it was common to see \\ here 
a dozen had been eaten, and I could even see where the coyotes had inn and caught 

the rabbits. I was surprised at the number killed, although both rabbits and 
coyotes were numerous. As I walked through the brush jack rabbits would jump 
ii]> and run every few minutes, and coyotes were frequently seen. In this particular 
spot the numerous bunches of greasewood (Sarcobatus) scattered over the smooth 
valley bottom gave the coyotes a great advantage, enabling them to approach close 
to the rabbits and prohahly catch them before they got fairly started. It is very 
doubtful if a coyote can catch a jack rabbit in a fair race on open ground. 

About live years ago the State of California ottered a bounty of $5 
each for coyote scalps. The act was passed March 31, 1891, and pro- 
vided that such scalps should be deposited with the clerk of the board 
of supervisors of the county in which the animal was taken, within three 
months after the date of capture, and must be accompanied by an alii 
davit showing the time and place that the animal was killed. The law 
practically remained in force up to September 30, 1892, when the State 
board of examiners refused to pass on any claims for scalps taken sub 
sequent to that date. The State controller reports that the sum paid 
for scalps during the eighteen months that the law remained in effect 
was (187,485, and that up to June 30, 1894, no less than 71,723 coyote 
scalps had been presented, with claims for bounty amounting to $358,015. 
This immense destruction of coyotes has permitted the increase of the 
smaller animals on which they feed. Complaints have been made 
that the rabbits are increasing in numbers and that the damage done 
by them is greater than that caused by the coyotes. As already stated, 
the county of San Bernardino in 1893 ottered the unusually high bounty 
of 20 cents apiece on the rabbits, which, as a result of this wholesale 
destruction of coyotes, had so greatly increased in numbers. In this 
remarkable case of legislation a large bounty was offered 1>\ a county 
in the interest of fruit growers to counteract the effects of a State 
bounty expended mainly for the benefit of sheep owner-! 


.lack rabbits are subject to epidemics, which occasionally reduce 

their numbers very materially. These outbreaks are more or less local, 
but are reported every few years. According to Mr. George Watkins, 



rabbits were found in large numbers in Ash Meadows, Nevada, pre- 
vious to 1891, but in the spring of that year they were very rare. He 
attributed the decrease to the prevalence of an epidemic, which had 
been so severe as to render these animals almost extinct. In north- 
eastern California Mr. A. 0. Lowell, of Fort Bidwell, Modoc County, 
mentions seeing many dead rabbits in the autumn of 1893. 

A similar occurrence is reported by Mr. F. Stephens, near Beck- 
worth Pass, Plumas County. Speaking of a trip through northeastern 
California in August, 1894, he says: " The epidemic among hares was 
widespread through all the region I passed over north of Beckworth 
Pass, being perhaps most noticeable in the Madeline Plain on the South 
Fork of Pitt Kiver and near the Nevada line south of Surprise Valley. 
In all these places I saw daily dozens of carcasses near the road. The 
only cause of death that I could see was the abundant warbles (Cutere- 
bra) present in nearly all. It would seem, though, that these could 
only operate by lowering the state of health generally and that some 
contagious disease was present." 

Dr. J. A. Allen 1 speaks of an outbreak that occurred in the vicinity 
of Great Salt Lake in 1870-71, destroying large numbers of Lepus 
texianus and L. campestris; and Prof. Marcus E. Jones states that 
another occurred in Utah in 1885 or 1886. A similar instance of the 
destruction of the Prairie Hare (Lepus campestris) has been mentioned 
by Mr. Gibbs and Dr. Cooper, which occurred in Washington north of 
the Columbia Eiver about 1853. 1 Mr. Clark P. Streator, while at Pasco, 
Wash., near the mouth of Snake River, learned that another epidemic 
had occurred among the rabbits in the vicinity during the summer of 
1890. Maj. Chas. Bendire states that the inhabitants of the Payette 
Valley, Idaho, claim that epidemics occur among the jack rabbits in 
that region every five or six years. The following table gives briefly 
the epidemics which have been reported in the West during the last 
forty years, but the list is very incomplete : 

Partial List of Babbit Epidemics in the IFest. 








Autumn, 1892 

Ant umn, 1893 

August, 1894 

(Frequent) 1878... 

Spring, 1891 



Geo. B. Otis,' Selma 

A. C. Lowell, Fort Bidwell. 
F. Stephens. 

Modoc to Plumas County 



Ash Meadows, Nye County. . . 

George Watkins, Ash Meadows. 
J. A. Allen, Mon. N. Am. Roden- 


tia, 1877, p. 372. 
M. Richards, jr., Parowan. 
Marcus E. Jones, Salt Lake City. 
Cooper & Gibbs, Pac. R. R. Repts., 

XII, Pt. II, 1860, pp. 87, 131. 
Clark P. Streator. 


1885 or 1886 

About 1853 

Summer, 1890 

Washington . .. 

Near mouth Snake Kiver 

Monographs of American Roclentia, 1877, p. 372. 




In certain parts of California where jack rabbits are found in great 
numbers the 'drive' has proved the most successful means of exter- 
mination. Rabbit driving seems to have been first introduced in the 
San Joaquin Valley, near Tipton, Tulare County, in 1882, but did not 
attract much attention until the winter of 1887-88. This was daring 
the 'boom' in southern California, and it is probable that the influx 
of people from the East, many of whom settled in the San Joaquin 
Valley, was one of the causes of the sudden interest in rabbit drives. 
Large tracts of land were brought under cultivation in sections where 
jack rabbits were very abundant, and it became absolutely necessary 
to adopt some effective means of protecting the newly planted orchards 
and vineyards. 

The origin of the method, however, is somewhat obscure. It is said 
that the Mission Indians formerly hunted both cottontails and jack 
rabbits on horseback. A dozen or more Indians armed with clubs would 
engage in such a hunt, and, riding at full speed through the under- 
brush, would start the rabbits from their hiding places. The cotton- 
tails, confused by the clattering of the horses' hoofs and the shouts 
of the riders, would turn this way and that, and either dodge into their 
holes or squat close to the ground, only to be dispatched by a swift 
blow from a club. The jack rabbits, on the contrary, usually made 
for the open plain, where they were turned in their flight, and soon sur- 
rounded and killed. 

Long before the settlement of the country by the whites, the Indians 
were accustomed to capture large numbers of jack rabbits with nets, 
the animals being surrounded and driven into an inelosnre. where they 
were killed with clubs. One of the earliest accounts of this custom 
is contained in Townsend's k Narrative of a Journey across the Rocky 
.Mountains. * published in 1831) (p. 327). In speaking of the Blacktailed 
Jack Babbit found near Walla Walla. Wash., he says: "The Indians 
kill them with arrows, by approaching them stealthily as they lie con- 
cealed under the bushes, ami in winter take them with nets. To do this, 
some one or two hundred Indians, men. women, and children, collect 
and inclose a large space with a slight net, about 5 feet wide, made of 



hemp; the net is kept in a vertical position by pointed sticks attached 
to it and driven into the ground. These sticks are placed about 5 or 6 
feet apart, and at each one an Indian is stationed with a short club in 
his hand. After these arrangements are completed, a large number of 
Indians enter the circle, and beat the bushes in every direction. The 
frightened hares dart off toward the nets, and, in attempting to pass, 
are knocked on the head and secured. Mr. Pambrun, the superintendent 
of Fort Walla Walla, from whom I obtained this account, says that he 
lias often participated in this sport with the Indians, and has known 
several hundred to be thus taken in a day. When captured alive, it 
does not scream, like the common gray rabbit (Lepns sylv aliens)." 

The Indians of southern Oregon also carried on rabbit drives some 
years ago, especially near the Oregon-Nevada boundary line, near Fort 
McDermitt. Several hundred rabbits were killed at a time and util- 
ized for food, while their skins were made into clothing. During his 
second expedition, Ool. J. 0. Fremont found the same method of cap- 
turing rabbits used by the Piutes of Nevada and eastern California.* 
In describing one of his camps on the east slope of the Sierra Nevada, 
evidently near the head of the Truckee River, he says, under date of 
January 31, 1844: "We had scarcely lighted our fires when the camp 
was crowded with nearly naked Indians; some of them were furn- 
ished with long nets in addition to bows, and appeared to have been 
out on the sage hills to hunt rabbits. These nets were perhaps 30 to 
40 feet long, kept upright in the ground by slight stakes at intervals, 
and were made from a kind of wild hemp, very much resembling in 
manufacture those common among the Indians of the Sacramento 

Maj. Chas. Bendire, while returning from Deep Spring Valley to 
Camp Independence, Gal., in November, I860 or 1867, saw the Indians 
engaged in driving jack rabbits on the east side of Owens Valley, a few 
miles south of Bishop. A corral had been made by stretching low nets 
between stakes placed about 20 feet apart. Into the inclosure thus 
formed the animals were driven from a considerable area in the valley, 
and it was estimated that 300 or 400 rabbits were killed in this drive. 
The nets were made by the Indians, and each hunter was required to 
furnish his quota. Mr. F. V. Ooville, botanist of the Death Valley 
Expedition, learned that similar nets were formerly used by the Indians 
of Ash Meadows, Nevada. These nets were made from the Indian hemp 
[Apocynum cannabinum), which furnishes a strong and excellent fiber. 
The same material was evidently used by the tribes in the eastern part 
of the State, for Bancroft, in speaking of the Indians near the Utah 
boundary, says: "The Gosh Utes take rabbits in nets made of flax 
twine, about 3 feet wide and of considerable length. A fence of sage 
brush is erected across the rabbit paths, and on this the net is hung. 
The rabbits m running quickly along the trail become entangled in the 

Rept. Expl. Expd. to Oregon and Calif., 1845, p. 227 (House Doc. Xo. 166.) 



meshes and are taken before they can escape." (Native Races of the 
Pacific States, I, 1874, p. 428.) 
The Moki Indians, of northeastern Arizona, have practiced rabbit 

driving for a number of years. The hunts are made both on loot and 
with horses, and the rabbits are simply surrounded instead of being 
driven into an inclosure. A peculiar kind of weapon, resembling a 
boomerang', is employed in these hunts, and is thrown with such accu- 
racy that it proves very effective in the hands of Indians accustomed 
to its use. Similar drives were also made by the Indians in northern 
New Mexico, near Espanola. The Piutes and other tribes in Utah used 
to assemble in large numbers in a valley near Cedar City, where they 
engaged in a grand hunt each November, killing thousands of rabbits 
for their skins and for food. 

The modern 'rabbit drives' are conducted on much the same plan 
as those of the Indians, but precautions are taken beforehand so that 
no escape is left for the ani- 

^ R 



mals when once surrounded. 
A square or triangular in- 
closure, open at one end, is 
constructed of wire netting 
— or of laths securely fas- 
tened close together. Often 
a corner of some old corral 
is simply made rabbit-tight, 
and from the open end of 
the pen diverging fences or 
wings are carried out in the 
form of a wide-mouthed V, 
sometimes for a distance of 
li or 3 miles ( see fig. 1). The 
fences are occasionally made 
in sections, so that they can 
be transported from one 

place to another, and thus D, drivers; E, entrance to corral; It. rabbits. (From Am. 

used for several drives. The Fiel<1 1888 -> 

Goshen Rabbit Drive Club, organized in the spring of 1888, had an 
'outfit' which cost about 8150, and was considered one of the best in 
the San Joaquin Valley; it was used mainly near Goshen, but was also 
moved to Huron, Fresno County, where it did duty for some time. This 
outfit consisted of 1 mile of wire netting 28 inches wide, and 100 iron 
stakes three-fourths of an inch in diameter and 3 or 4 feet long. The 
stakes were set 15 or 20 feet apart, and the netting fastened t<> them. 
At the apex of the wings a circular corral was built 60 to 200 feet in 
diameter and provided with a sliding gate i see p. 50 . 

Mr. Charles S.Greene, m describing the drive at Traver on April 8j 
181V2, ' states that the wings used on thai occasion were made of wire 

•Overland .Monthly, 2d ser., XX. .Inly. 1892, p. 54. 
8615— No 8 4 

Fig 1.— Diagram showing form of corral used in ral>bit 
drive at Bakersfield, Cal., Jan 15, 1888. 

A, B, portable wired pieket fence, 1 mile long; C, eorral; 


netting and were not more than 2 feet high. Although he saw rabbits 
leap much higher during the early part of the drive they made no 
attempt to escape over the fences when the wings were reached, the 
animals evidently being too wearied, as they had been driven for some 
distance. On the other hand, in a small drive which took place near 
Claremont on September 9, 1893, no wings or corral were built, but an 
attempt was made to utilize a corner of a stone wall 3 or 4 feet in height 
instead. The rabbits were driven only a short distance and when the 
wall was reached it is said that most of them went over it like sheep, 
and comparatively few were killed. In the great drive at Wildflower, 
Fresno County, the wings, made of wire netting, were 3 feet in height 
and extended for a distance of 7 miles, converging toward a circular 
corral at the apex. ] 

A drive always means a gala day, and is a favorite way of celebrat- 
ing some special occasion. The announcement is the signal for a 

gathering of the clans from 
all the neighboring country 
and the population of the 
place is increased to sev- 
eral times its normal size 
when such an event takes 
j)lace. Excursionists are at- 
tracted in large numbers by 
the special rates offered by 
the railroads, and sometimes 

Fig. 2.— Diagram showing form of portable corral used by (»0 m e from DOintS aS far 

the Goshen .Rabbit Drive Club. . 

A, B, wings of wire netting each half a mile long; C, distant as Sail FranciSCO 

corral GO to 200 feet in diameter; E, sliding gate. (From anc [ SaCrameiltO. UpOU the 

M. S. Featherstone.) . , , n , 

appointed day large num- 
bers of people turn out armed with sticks and clubs, and, scattering 
over a considerable area, start the rabbits and drive them toward the 
mouth of the corral. Every available vehicle is pressed into service, 
but the larger part of the throng is usually on foot. The lines grad- 
ually close in, and the frightened rabbits, urged on by blows and 
shouts, rush blindly into the opening between the wings and are grad- 
ually crowded toward the narrow end of the pen where they are soon 
dispatched with clubs. Firearms are seldom used either in driving or 
killing, as clubs are cheaper, safer, and equally effective. The drives 
take place in winter or spring, and the number of rabbits killed varies 
from a few hundred up to ten or even twenty thousand in a single day. 
The town of Traver regularly celebrates its birthday in April by a rabbit 
drive and barbecue. On April 8, 1892, it was estimated that no less 
than G,0()0 persons were present, and more than 4,000 people and 1,000 
teams took part. 

See figure in Scientific American, LXI, No. 19., Nov. 9, 1889, p. 295. 


A writer in the Chicago Tribune of October 1, L893, thus graphic- 
ally describes one of the Largest drives which has taken place in the 
vicinity of Fresno, Cal.: 

A close fence forming the corral is built aboul 500 yards sqnare, with an opening 
or entrance lor receiving the drive at one end, the opening being perhaps 50 feel 
wide. This is the. finishing point of the drive, and will hold thousands of rabbits. 
From this opening diverge two fences, close enough to keep the rabbits from jump- 
ing through) about 5 feel bigh. These two fences diverge from the entrance for 
about 3 miles, increasing in their distance apart as they increase in distance from 
the ent ranee. * 

By 7 o'clock in the morning all is hustle and preparation for the drive. Some 
men have heavy sticks and sonic heavy clubs, but no pistols or any kind of firearms 
arc allowed, and no dogs. The sticks and clubs are used to l»eat the brush and to 
kill the rabbits at the finish. 

A general is appointed to give orders, and under him are those who keep the lines 
in order. But sometimes they are anything but orderly. The order to Btart being 
given along the line, the cavalcade rushes forward. Boys with hoots and cries run 
hither and thither, wielding their sticks. .Men on foot in advance lines are followed 
by those on horseback and in vehicles. Those on fool seem to have the best b i 
in putting up the rabbits. * 

After advancing a few miles the commencement of the fences diverging from the 
corral can be seen. The scene is humorous at times, when a horseman is seen dash- 
ing :it full speed after a jack rabbit and a man oil foot running in another direction 
after another. Now hundreds of the poor creatures are easily discerned as the 
fences appear on the left and right, miles apart. .Many try the back track only to 
meet death in the attempt. All the horsemen gallop in cowboy style, sonic with 
long sticks in their hands. Great numbers of rabbits dash in every direction 
in front of the advancing hosts, and far ahead the long ears of hundreds more can 
be seen racing for life, occasionally crouching and then starting ahead again, but 
still surely advancing into the inevitable death-trap. The close proximity to the 
finish makes the chase exciting. Those on foot are heated and eager. The fence on 
each side is closing in fast, and although still some distance from the corral the 
screaming of the poor creatures can be heard as they hud their retreat cut off. 

The climax of the drive is now at hand. Hundreds of men and boys rush in every 
direction. The horsemen and carriages partly hide the view. The clouds of dust 
are stilling. Now the screeching of the rabbits can be heard above everything, and 
the ground is covered with dead rabbits by the dozen. At the corral entrance the 
scene is indescribably pitiful and distressing. To slash and heat the poor 

screaming animals to death is the work of but a short time, hut n brings tears to 
many an eye. and makes the heart sore to witness the finish. It is a relief to every- 
body when all is still, when the trying day is at an end. The result of the drive at 
Fresno was 20, 000 dead rabbits. 

The rabbits killed in the drives are utilized in various ways. If 
they are in good condition some are dressed and shipped to market 
where they find a ready sale, lint usually the drives are carried on 
solely for the pnrpose of exterminating the pests. In localities where 
a bounty has been offered the ears are collected for ' scalps' and the 
bodies not saved for food are either used for fertilizing purposes, fed 
to hogs, or thrown away. 

Drives have occurred in nine counties of California, viz: Inyo. Lofl 
Angeles, Modoc. Fresno, Kern. Kings. Madera, Merced, and Tulare. 
With the exception of those in Inyo. Los Angeles, and Modoc, all have 


taken place in the southern part of the San Joaquin Yalley. Data are 
available for only a few drives east of the Sierra Nevada, one being 
the Indian hunt already mentioned, which took place in 1866, near 
Bishop, Inyo County, and the others in Modoc County in the extreme 
northeastern corner of the State — in Surprise Valley, just east of the 
Warner Mountains, and near Likely, on the South Fork of Pitt Eiver. 
It may also be noticed that the drive at Claremont, Los Angeles County, 
is the only one which has occurred at a point well within the range of 
Lcpus calif or nicus, and although it resulted in the destruction of only 
about a hundred rabbits is especially interesting, as it seems to be 
one of the few drives in which the California Jack Eabbit alone was 
killed. All the large drives have been made in localities where the 
Texan Jack Rabbit is the predominant if not the only species. The 
largest drives have occurred in the vicinity of Bakersfield and Fresno. 
They usually extend over considerable country, and one of the Fresno 
drives has been described by Mr. Charles H. Townsend, in which nearly 
2,000 horsemen took part. This hunt covered some 20 square miles, 
and about 15,000 rabbits were driven into a central corral and killed. 
(Forest and Stream, XXXVIII, March 3, 1892, p. 197.) 


The feasibility of driving jack rabbits into a corral for wholesale 
destruction was demonstrated about twenty years ago ; but rabbit driv- 
ing as now carried on, began within the last decade. At first the ani- 
mals were shot instead of being killed with clubs, and these hunts were 
known as shotgun drives. 

Mr. George W. Stewart, editor of the Visalia Delta, has kindly con- 
tributed the following notes concerning the early drives in California: 

The first rabbit drive in the San Joaquin Valley, and probably in the State, 
occurred in the year 1875. The firm of Haggin & Carr had begun to farm a large 
body of land in Kern County, at the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley, which 
up to that time had been used only as a cattle range. The manager, a Mr. Souther, 
was much anuoyed by the ravages of thousands of jack rabbits on what is known 
as Kern Island [a tract of land about 15 miles long] formed at that time by branches 
of Kern River. Mr. Souther collected a large number of his vaqueros and other 
ranch hands, and these men, mounted and on foot, surrounded a large territory and 
gradually closed their lines toward a large cattle corral, into which the rabbits 
were driven. Many rabbits escaped through the line, but the result of this first 
drive was 1,200 rabbits and 2 coyotes. * * * 

The next great slaughter of jack rabbits occurred eleven years later near Han- 
ford, now the county seat of Kings County. Notice had been given beforehand, and 
on March 3, 1886, about 250 men from Hanford and the adjacent country, armed with 
shotguns (rifles and pistols were barred), surrounded a large area of country 6 miles 
south of the town. As the circumference of the circle gradually lessened, the 
shooting commenced, and when loss than a mile in diameter the firing was incessant, 
the continuous discharge making the noise of a small battle. When the last jack 
rabbit bad been shot the army halted for a lunch. A number of men had shot as 
many as 50 rabbits each, and it was estimated that 3,000 had been slain. In the 
afternoon a fresh supply of ammunition was secured and another smaller tract of 


country was surrounded and the battle continued. The result of the afternoon's 
work was 1,000 hares, making 1,000 for the day, One result of this exciting day 
was a realization of the danger of using guns in this manner; several people were 
peppered with shot, but none were seriously injured. 

The following year, 1887, the rabbits had become so destructive on tk<- greal Miller 
&, Lux ranch, on the west side of Merced County, that men were employed to kill 
them. The hunters were supplied with horses, wagons, and ammunition, and were 
paid 5 cents for every rabbit killed. Over 7,000 were killed on that one ranch (luring 
the season. 

The first largo rabbit drive on the plan afterwards adopted took place near l'ix- 
ley, in Tulare County, on November 11. 1887, a year and a half after the Hanford 
slaughter. Firearms of all kinds were forbidden, and dogs were not allowed within 
the lines. A corral of rabbit-proof wire was made, and from its entrance two 
V-shaped wings extended a distance of a mile and a half. Into this space the rabbits 
were driven. Many hundreds stampeded and broke through the line, but the result 
of the drive was 2,000. 

The mod en i method of driving rabbits into a corral seems to have 
originated with Mr. W. J. Browning, a professional hunter, of Tipton, 
Tulare County. Stimulated by an offer of $1,000 for 1,000 live jack 
rabbits for coursing, Mr. Browning undertook to capture the animals by 
driving them into a corral made by stretching fish nets between posts. 
In a letter dated January 15, 1895, he says: "I commenced the busi- 
ness of trapping jack rabbits with a corral drive net, with wings about 
half a mile long, during the summer of 1882. I have shipped many 
thousands to all parts of the country, alive, for coursing purposes. 
* * * En driving, I use six or eight men mounted on good horses, 
and in this manner usually trap from 50 to 500 jacks. The big drives 
of this State were patterned after my system, as the first drive I ever 
heard of outside of my own was made [at Pixley] in this county in 
1887, in the month of November." 

In order to obtain all the information possible on the subject of rab- 
bit driving, Mr. J. Ellis McLellan, a field agent of the division, was 
detailed to visit Merced, Fresno, Bakerslield, and other points in the 
San Joaquin Valley in the autumn of 1894. Mr. McLellan gathered 
many facts of interest, and the following brief account lias been mainly 
condensed from his reports, while the list of drives on pages 55-67 is 
largely the result of his energy in collecting data. 

Early in the autumn of 1887 the question of taking measures for a 
wholesale destruction of jack rabbits was discussed in Kern County, 
but nothing was done for some months, and the project would probably 
have proved a failure through apathy or opposition had it not been 
vigorously agitated by the press. In the meantime, however, an exper- 
iment was made at Pixley, Tulare County, and the ftrsl public drive 
took place there on November 11. L887. Two thousand rabbitswew 
killed, and it was demonstrated that jack rabbits could l»c successfully 
driven into a corral. Another drive took place on Decembers, and 
1,000 more were slaughtered. Rabbit driving began in earnest in 
Kern County on January 2, 1888. The iirst drive was made near 


Bakersfield, and was followed by others at intervals of a week or ten 
days with such success that the method attracted widespread atten- 
tion throughout the valley. Great interest was aroused in Tulare 
County, and on February 25 the 'Pioneer Rabbit Drivers' Club' was 
formed and driving was undertaken by various towns in quick succes- 
sion. The first drive near Tipton took place January 28, at Tulare on 
February 1, at Waukena February 11, at Yisalia March 1G, and at 
Travel- April 7. Not to be outdone by Kern and Tulare counties, the 
citizens of Fresno met on February 8, and decided to arrange for a rabbit 
drive and barbecue, which was held on March 1&, An association for 
rabbit driving was also organized in Merced County, and the first drive 
took place at Merced on March 24. During this time the matter seems 
to have been dropped at Pixley and the credit of originating the novel 
method of rabbit destruction was claimed by several other towns. 

In February and March, 1888, rabbit driving seems to have reached 
its height in the San Joaquin Valley. It was estimated by the news- 
papers that nearly 20,000 rabbits were killed in Tulare County during 
March alone; while about 40,000 were destroyed in Fresno, and 70,000 
each in Kern and Tulare counties during the spring of 1888. With 
the close of this season there was a noticeable falling off in the num- 
ber of drives, either through lack of interest or because the rabbits 
had decreased in numbers to some extent. Comparatively few took 
place in 1890 and 1891, but in the spring of 1892 several large ones 
were made in Fresno County. The largest on record occurred between 
Easton and Oleander, 10 or 15 miles southwest of Fresno, and formed 
the closing event of an encampment of the Grand Army of the Republic 
at Fresno, March 12, 1892. It is said that 8,000 people were present, and 
the estimates of the number of rabbits killed vary from 20,000 to 30,000 
(see PI. IV). The central location of Fresno makes it an easy. matter 
to bring together large numbers of people at short notice. Since 1892 
there has been a still further decrease both in the number and size of 
the drives, and except at Traver, hardly any large ones have taken place 
in the State. The custom has been somewhat revived during 1893 and 
1894 in Modoc County, where it is said a few drives were held iu 1889. 

It is impracticable to give a complete list of all the drives or an 
accurate statement of the number of rabbits killed. The figures pub- 
lished in newspapers are probably often exaggerated, but in most 
cases afford the only data available. With the assistance of many 
correspondents statistics for about a hundred and fifty of the more 
important drives have been collected. 1 As shown by the following 
table, more than 370,000 rabbits have been destroyed, but these prob- 
ably represent only a small proportion of the total number actually 
killed in California.. 

'The writer is indebted to many persons for aid in the preparation of the follow- 
ing list. Besides those named below should he mentioned Messrs. Charles H. Shiun, 
of Berkeley, Walter E. Bryant, of Oakland, and F. H. Holmes, of Berryessa, who 
have assisted in various ways. 

Bull. 8, Div. Ornithology and Mammalogy, U S. Dept. Agriculture. 

Plate V. 



r~ \ MA'RIf' 

Jvterced- s 



n8° tw* 








^V(!^S|tfi& SJnd^err^erxce. 

^ \ Ectstoa jJV^> 

T U L a :k e | it 

^^^rf§§v£) Mohave 







4J9 4 



Map showing Location of Rabbit Drives in Southern California. 

Drives have occurred at each place marked with a black spot. 

List of California Rabbit Drives. 


Fresno Comiti/. 

Caruthers (6 miles west) 

Easton (12 miles southwest 
of Fresno). 



Fresno (5 miles south) 




Fresno (10 miles south) 





Wild Flower. 


Kern < 'ounty. 




Bakersfleld (Houghton dairy) 
Bakersfleld (4 miles weal I - 
Bakers lie Id (Bosedale, 3 
miles north). 



Bakerstield (5 miles south) . 
Bakerslield (6 miles south- 




Delano (10 miles southwest). . 

Delano (9 miles west) 


Haggin & Carr Ranch, Kern 

kfou.n1 View dairy w (13 miles 

southwest of bakersfleld). 




Mount View dairy 1 * (13 miles 
southwest of Bakersfleld) 
(shotgun drive). 
Mount \ lev. dan • ' ; (1 : mil; s 
southwest .ii Bakersfleld). 
Mount View dairy 1 " ( [3 miles 
southwest of Bakerstield) 
(shotgun drive). 



Feb. 22, 1892 
Feh. 13,1892 




A pr. 


18, 1892 

16, 1888 

24, 1888 
12, 1888 

25. 1888 

23. 1889 

13, 1893 
18. 1S9I5 

5, 1894 
12, 1891 

14, 1888 
1, 1889 

Jan. 23,1888 
Jan. 30,1888 
5, 1888 


Feh. 12,1888 

Feb. 19,1888 
Feb. 25,1888 


4. 1888 

3. 1889 

Jan. 2, 18 

Jan. 10,1888 

Feh. 9, 1888 
Oct. 1, 1888 
Jan. 20,1889 
May 3,1891 

May 16,1891 
June 6,1891 
June 10, 1894 
Dec. 9,1894 

Dec. 16,1894 
Dec. 23, 1894 
Feb. 4,1888 
Feh. 19, 1888 
July 13, 1888 
Nov. 14-Dec. 
31, 1894. 


Jan. 15,1888 


1. 500? 

900 s 





5 12, 000 

6 1,126^ 


7 5,075,» 

500 s 

3, 500 

8 1, 600 





1, 000 



Ahah A. Baton. 
Weekh Fresno Bxposib 

Feb. 17, 1892; 

Foresl and Stream, \.\X\ HI, Mar. 3, 

L892, 107 15,000. 
Photograph hj F. M Stiffler, Oakland. 

Weekly Fresno F \ posit or. Mar. 22 I- 

Fresno Daily Republican, Mar. i. 

Expoaitor Mar 22. 
Fresno Daily Republican, Mar •-'.">. I8f 
Fresno Daily Republican, Apr. 13 
Fresno Expositor, Apr. 25, 1*8*. 
Fresno Daily Republican Mar _'t,i889. 
Photograph i>v E. R. Unpins Fresno. 
Chicago Daily News May 10 
Daily Evening Expositor, Ma\ 
TulareCountyTimes(Visalia).Julj 16, 1891. 

Weekly Visalia Delta, Mtr. 29, 

Scieutilic Am., LX1, Nov, 9, 1S80. p. 295. 

San Francisco Mining and Sci. Press .Jan. 
28, 1888, p. 51. 


Weekly Kern County Echo, Feb. 16,1888. 
Weekly Kern County Feho, Oct. 8. 1888. 
Weekly Kern County Feho. .Ian 24 
Weekly Kern County Feho, May 7, 1891, 

Weekly Kern County Echo, May 21, 1891. 
Gus. Ivrat/.mer. Bakersfleld. 
Weekly Kern County Echo, June 14,1894. 
c. A. Nelson, Bakersfleld. 

B. L. Brundage, Bakersfleld. 

Delano Courier, Feh. 10, 18*8. 
Delano Courier, Feh. 24. 1888. 




5,500 j 

10,000 j Delano Courier, July 20, 1888. 
9 25, 000 Hill &. Conrad, Delano. 

1,200 ! Geo. W. Stewart, editor Visali.i Delta. 

>>3,500 Weeklj Kern County Echo, Jan. 19, L888. 

2,000 Weekly Kern County Echo, Jan. 26. 1888. 

5,000 Weekly Kern County Echo, Feb 2, L888. 

5,000 Weekly Kern County Feho, Feb. 

500 Weekly Kern County Echo. Feh. 16, 1888. 



Weekly Kern County Echo, Feb. 23, 1888. 
Weekly Kern County Echo, Mar. 2, 1888. 

Weekly Kern County Echo, Mar. - 
Shooting and Fishing, V, Mar. 28 U 

1 Actual count— 7,000 in the corral, 7,000 dead outside. 

2 The great ( i. A. It. drive, which took place between Easton and Oleandeax the largest drive on 
The Weekly Fresno Expositor of Marco 16, 1892, places the number of rabbits killed at 25,000. 

3 Badly managed; about 20,000 rabbits rounded an; all but 2,000 escaped. 

4 Two drives same day; 9,723 by actual count; about 4,000 hauled away before count 
taken alive for Merced coursing match. 

'Mr. M. S. Featherstone. of ( rOShen, states that only 8,(>nu were killed by actual count. 

6 2.500 estimated to have been killed alt. .-ether. 

'500 estimated to have been killed outside the corral. 

•Private <lri\e. covering 16 sections. 

'Thirteen private drives. About two-thirds of these rabbits were shipped t>> the San Ft 

"Returns for these drives vary. Messrs. Nelson & Bailej have circulated a clipping from tta 
County Echo with their photograph of the drive of March 4, 1888, w bich nives the followina i 

January 2. 2,600; January 8, 8,000; January 15,5,500; January - '•. 2 January B0 1,006; F. 

5,5,000 : February 9, 500; February 12,4,500; February 19,7,000; February 2:;. £500; March 4 

•'3.000. according to N F. White in American Field, XXX, November 3," 1888, 410-411. 

12 Actual count, tirst drive, 5,500; second, 1,500. 


i; 1,000 

6 K.rn 





List of California Rabbit Drives — Continued. 





Kings County. 

Haiiford (shotgun drive) 

ll.inibrd (Cross Creek) 

Hanford (Iialf way to Traver) 

Los Angeles County. 

Claremont ...-• 

Madera County. 
Berendo (Desmond Ranch) 


Berendo (Miller Ranch) . 

Berendo (Miller Ranch). 

Berendo :• . . . 




John Brown Colony 





Madera (4 miles west).. 
Madera (5 miles south). 
Madera (3 miles west) . 


Madera (5 miles south) . 
Madera (3 miles west) . . 

Merced County. 
Athlone (10 miles west) . 


Athlone (16 miles south) 

Hartley Ranch (near Beren- 
do. Madera County). 

Hartley Ranch ? 




Modoc County. 
Cedarvillo (3-12 miles south) 

Cedarville (7 miles north). . . 
Lake City 




Lake City (2 drives) 

Lake City 

Do 5 


Likely (several drives) , 

Tulare County* 




Mar. 3,1886 

Mar. —,1888 
Apr. 22, 1888 

Sept. 9,1893 

Mar. or Apr., 


Jan. or Apr., 

Feb. or Mar., 


Feb. 24,1895 
Feb. 28,1895 
Mar. 9, 1895 
Apr. or May, 

Spring, 1891 
Spring, 1892 ! 
Mar. — , 1893 
Apr. — , 1890 
Dec. 30,1888 
Feb. —,1889 
Mar. 14, 1889 
Apr. — , 1889 
May — , 1889 
Feb. 17,1895 


Spring, 1888 


Mar. 16, 1895 

Feb. 8, 1895 
Apr. 4,1893 
Apr. or May, 

Apr. 25, 1893 
1893 ? 
Apr. 4, 1894 
Mar. 24, 1888 
Mar. 28, 1888 
Apr. 4,1888 
Apr. 16,1888 
Mar. 12, 1889 

Jun e -July, 

Dec. 20,1894 
Jan. 5,1893 
Jan. 15,1893 
Jan. 20,1893 
Jan. 25,1893 
Feb. —,1893 
Dec. 30,1894 
Jan. 5, 1895 
Jan. 20,1895 

Sept, 15, 1888 

Sept. 22, 1888 


Apr. 11,1888 
Jan. 20,1889 
Feb. 15, 1889 
Mar. — , 1889 

3, ooo; 


1, 250' 








1, 500-1, 600 



1, 400-1, 500 










1, 200-1, 500 





George W. Stewart, editor Visalia Delta. 

Weeklv Visalia Delta, Mar. 29, 1888. 
Weekly Visalia Delta, Apr. 26, 1888. 

Pomona Times, Sept. 13, 1893. 

H. D. Crow, Berendo. 

John J. Purkner, Madera. 

H. D. Crow, Berendo. 

H.D. Crow and Miss L.K. Gozzoli, Berendo. 
J. F. Ward, Berendo. 


John J. Purkner, Madera. 

L. TJ. Hoskins, Madera. 


John J. Purkner, Madera. 
Weekly Visalia Delta, Jan. 10, 1889. 
John J. Purkner, Madera. 
J. F. AVard, Berendo. 
John J. Purkuer, Madera. 



W. H. Bowden, Athlone. 


J. F. Ward, Berendo. 

F. Crowell, Livingston. 

Diary of D. L. Heffner, Merced. 
F. Crowell, Livingston. 
San Joaquin Valley Argus, Mar. 24, 1888. 
San Joaquin Vallev Argus, Mar. 31, 1888. 
H. N. Wilson, Merced. 
San Joaquin Valley Argus, Apr. 21, 1888. 
San Joaquin Valley Argus, Mar. 16, 1889. 

3, 000 T. H. Johnston, Cedarville. 


S. O. Cressler, Lake City. 







Wm. J. Dorris, Likelv. 

Delano Courier, Sept. 21, 1888. 

DelaUO Courier, Sept. 22, 1888 (announced). 

Shooting and Fishing, V, No. 13, Jan. 24, 

1889, p. 10. 
Weekly Visalia Delta, Apr. 12, 1888. 
Tulare Register, Feb. 1,1889. 
M. S. Featherstone, Goshen. 
Weekly Visalia Delta, Mar. 21, 1889. 

'3,969 in the corral, and 600 estimated to have been killed outside, all on one section of land. 

2 Mr. D. K. Zumwalt, of Visalia, has kindly furnished the statistics for 16 drives in this county, and 
sevoral in Fresno, Kern, and Kings counties. 

3 About 200 more were killed outside ; a second drive was made later, but the figures were not given. 

4 2,390 actually driven into the corral; the others killed outside. 



List of California Babbit Thrives — Continued. 


Hat. . 


Tulare County — Continued. 

Jonesa A pr . 

Oakdalo Mar. 18, 1888 

Oakdalo (3 miles south) Mar. 24, 1888"< 

Pixlev Nov. 14,1887 

Do Dec. 3,1887 

Do March, 1888 

Do June 1,1888 

Pixley (12 miles south) : May —.1889 

Pixlev ' Aug. 20, 189:5 

Do I Nov. (7 0. 1894 

Do Dec. 14, 1804 

Pixley (other drives 4 ) 

Piano (18 miles west) 



Tipton (Lake View school). 


Tokay (5 miles south Tulare) 


Traven Set t lers ditch, south- 
west of town). 




dan. 20, 1895 
Jan. 27. 1895 
Jan. 28.1888 
May 18,1889 
Mar. 10,1888 
Feb. 85, 1890 
Apr. 7, 1888 : 

Feb, 20.1889 
Mar. 8,1889 
Aur. — , 1891 





4. DIM) 

' 2. 200 


■ 2,000 




1 . 000 


3, 900 


3, 000-4. 000 




Traver (10 miles southwest). . 


Tulare (Mitchell Panch, 6 

miles West i. 

Tulare (Birch Ranch, 7 mile3 


Tulare (7 miles south) 



Tulare (6 miles east) 


Tulare (Park wood, 7 miles 




Tulare (Mitchell Panch, G 
miles W68l I. 


Visalia (north of town) 

Visalia (?) (McCann Panch).. 





Mar. G, 1892 6 
Apr. 8,1892 

Feb. - Apr.. 

Apr. 8,1893 
Feb. 25.1894 
Mar. 4.1894 
Apr. 7,1894 
Mar. 31,1895 
Apr. 8, 1895 I 
Feb. 11,1888 

Feb. 15, 1888 1 

Feb. 20. 1888 
Feb. 24, 1888 ' 
Mar. 2.1888, 
Mar. 4.1888 
Mar. 9,1888 
Mar. 24, 1888 

Feb. 0. 
Feb. 25, 
Mar. 30, 
Feb. -, 

Mar. 16, 
Mar. 18. 
Apr. 14. 
Feb. 11, 
Feb. 2, 
June 11, 
J une 30. 
Nov. 10, 



Weekly Visalia Delta. 1888. 

Weekly Visalia Delta. Mar 28 


Tulare Register, Nov. L8 1887. 

Tulare Regisb r. D< C. '.'. 

Samuel Shilling. Pixlej . 

John W. Harper, Pixley. 

Samuel Shilling, Pixlev. 

John W. Harper, Pixley. 

Ma.j. C. J. Berry, Vi-alia 

John W. Harper, Pixley; <i. J. Martin, 

Poplar— 290. 
John W. Harper, Pixley. 
William Thomson, Piano. 
G-. J. Martin, Poplar. 


W.J. Browning, Tipton. 
Tulare Register, Hay 24, 18*0. 
Tulare Register, Mar. Hi. 1888. 
M . s. Featherstone, I loshen. 

Weekly Visalia Delta, Apr. 12. 1888. 

Fresno Daily Republican, Mar. ! 
Fresno Daily Republican, afar. l". - 
Henry Lahann, Traver. 

Los Angeles Times, Mar. 7, 1802. 
C. S. Greene, Overland Mont hi v. 2d ser., 

XX, July, 1892. pp. 49-58. 
4 drives, 7 Henry Lahann. Traver. 

2,500 lleurv Lahann, Traver. 

2, 000 Do. 

1,500 Do. 

2, 000 Visalia(TulareCountv»Times, Apr. 12, 1894. 

370 s. s. Cederberg, Hanford. 

3iii) Jleurv Lahann, Traver. 

8 5,000 Weekly Visalia Delta, Feb. 16, 1888. 

2,500 \ Photograph from D. K. Zumwalt, Visalia. 

1,000 | Tulare Register. Feb. 24. 1888. 

2. 300 Weekly Visalia Delta. Mar. 1, 1888. 

3.000 Tulare Register, Mar. 2. 1888. 

2,232 Tulare Register, Mar. 9. 1888 

2.000 Tulare Kegister, Mar. Hi, 1888. 

2, 200 j Tulare Register, Mar. 30, 1888. 

1, 400 

1, 500 


4, 000 


12, 000 












Tulare Register, Feb. in. 1889. 
Tulare Register, Feb. 28 
Tulare Register, Apr. 5, 1889. 
M. S. Featherstone, Goshen. 


Weekly Visalia Delta. Mar. 29, 1888. 

Weekly Visalia Delta, Apr. IS 
Weekly Visalia Delta, Feb. H 
We.-klv Visalia Delta. Feb. 7 
W. F. Glass, Waukena. 



1 300-400 more probably killed before reaching the corral. 

2 Another drive announced tor March 29, 1888. 

3 First public drive in California. 

1 Several small shotgun drives took place about 1882 and 1883.— J. Ellis Mela-Han. 
6 Another drive announced for April 15, 1888. 

6 Third drive of the season. Another was planned for March 13, 1892. but no report has been received. 

7 Six drives in all took place during February , March, and April, in \\ hich 20,000 were killed. 

8 About 1,000 more estimated to have escaped. Another drive planned lor March 18. 

RK6ULTS <>i i in i>i:i\ i>. 

Although it is practically impossible to give all the rabbit drives 
which have occurred in California during the last eighl years, still this 
listof 155 drives, including tin- more important ones during the twenty 
years from 1875 to 1895, should be sufficient to show the progre>> of 



rabbit driving and the effect of this means of extermination. The gen- 
eral results may be tabulated as follows: 

Summary of California liabbit Drives. 

Number of drives. 

Rabbits killed,... 

Average d umber 

per drive 





* 1890. 






Misc. Total. 




158, 492 


34, 963 



14, 500 


65, 060 









370, 195 


* Returns incomplete; 4 drives reported but figures given for only 1. 

An examination of these figures shows that in the total of 155 drives 
370,195 rabbits were killed, or an average of nearly 2,400 in each drive. 
Returns for years previous to 1888 have been received for only 4 drives 
in which 8,200 rabbits were killed, but during the spring of 1888 the 
number of drives suddenly increased to 55, and then, as the novelty wore 
off or the rabbits became scarcer, decreased to 7. During the same 
period the number of rabbits slaughtered decreased from nearly 100,000 
in 1888 to 14,500 in 1891. In 1892 there were a few more drives and a 
decided increase in the slaughter of rabbits, due to the large drives in 
Fresno County. The total of 65,060 rabbits was second only to that of 
the season of 1888, but in the last three years there has been a decided 
falling off in the totals. The apparent increase in the number of drives 
in 1893 and 1894 is due in part to the small hunts in Modoc County, but 
the number in the San Joaquin Valley has continued to decline regularly 
until 1895, when only 12 small drives were reported. 

The largest number of rabbits killed in any single drive is said to 
have been 20,000, but the average of all the drives for any one year has 
varied from 5,400 down to 930 the past season. By far the greater 
number have been killed in the southern part of the San Joaquin Valley 
in a strip about 170 miles in length and 30 miles in width. If the small 
drives, in the northern part of the State and the single one in Los 
Angeles County are omitted, as well as the two early shotgun drives, 
the result is reduced to about 356,400 rabbits killed in 140 drives during 
eight years, or an average annual slaughter of about 44,500 rabbits in 
an area scarcely as large as the States of Connecticut and Rhode Island 
combined. The success of the drives is evident from the small number 
of rabbits killed during the last three years. This result, at least in 
Fresno County, is probably due in part to the appearance of an epidemic 
among the jack rabbits soon after the large drives of 1892. One cor- 
respondent writes from Selma: "Just as it had been found possible to 
control their presence in the more thickly settled part [of Fresno 
County] an epidemic appeared among them and they died by hundreds 
and by thousands. * * * Since then we have kept a few dogs and. 
the wire-screen fences have been gradually taken down, and now very 
few rabbits are to be found among the vines." 



Whether the present diminution in numbers is only temporary re 
mains to be seen, but this section of California is now being settled bo 
fast that it seems hardly possible for the rabbits to increase to their 
former abundance under all the forms of destruction which can be used 
against them. The case is instructive in showing the combined effect 
of natural and other means of extermination. If rabbits could be Bys 
tematically destroyed just after their numbers had been reduced by an 
epidemic, they would receive a setback from which they would not soon 

The decline of rabbit driving is hardly to be deplored. In the San 
Joaquin Valley a drive was made the occasion of a general holiday; the 
schools were closed and women and children joined the throng to assist 
in clubbing the rabbits or to watch the slaughter. It may be ques- 
tioned whether such frequent scenes of butchery can have anything 
but an injurious effect on a community, and it is fortunate that the 
necessity for them does not now exist. 


In Oregon the California method of destroying rabbits by drives has 
been recently introduced. Throughout the region east of the Cascades 
the black-tailed Texan Jack Rabbit (Lepus texicmus) is very abundant 
and has become so troublesome in Lake County that $2,1G0 was ex- 
pended for its destruction during the years 18S8, 1889, and L890. 
More than a dozen drives were made in December 1804, and January 
ISO."), in the vicinity of Lakeview. In one of these, which took place 
on January G, 1,975 rabbits were killed, while the total number slaugh- 
tered during the two months amounted to 12,202. Several drives, 
resulting in the destruction of 3,000 to 4,000 rabbits, have occurred 
during the winter of 1895-90, but in the absence of any detailed report 
they have not been included in the following table. 

Partial List of Rabbit Drive* in Oregon. 




Antliorii v. 

Lake Count;/. 

Dec. 18 1894 

1 (154 

C.U. Snider. Lakeview, Oreg. 


Dec. •_'". 1894 



Dec. 22, 1894 



Dec. 24 1894 



1>. i 27, 1894 

1 . 592 



Dec. 30, 1894 




Jan. 3,1895 




Jan. 6,1895 




Jan. in. 1896 

1. 146 



Jan. 17. L89S 




Jaa 20,1895 




Jan. 24. 1895 




Other drives 



Total (12 drives) 

12, 202 





It may be of interest to consider the methods of destruction which 
have been used in other States. Two of the jack rabbits which occur 
in California (Lcpns texianus and L. campestris) are common also in 
Utah, Idaho, and Colorado, and in some sections are excessively abun- 
dant. An entirely different method of extermination, however, is prac- 
ticed from that adopted in California. Large numbers are killed with 
shotguns in regularly organized hunts, but rabbit drives, properly 
speaking, are now rarely made, except in Idaho. 


According to Mr. M. Kichards, jr., of Parowan, Utah, the club was 
formerlyused in some of the rabbit hunts on the brushlands bordering 
Little Salt Lake, and as many as 2,000 rabbits have been killed in a 
drive, but this method has now been abandoned and shooting has been 
adopted instead. 

Rabbit hunts have taken place since the earliest settlement of the 
State — nearly half a century ago — but when they were first held by 
the Indians is unknown. The Piutes, Goshutes, and Pah van Indians 
were accustomed to resort to a large valley near Cedar City during the 
month of November, for the purpose of having a grand hunt, and thou- 
sands of rabbits were annually slaughtered. 1 Strangely enough, the 
first hunt among the whites of which we have any record probably 
occurred very near this place, and was participated in by a party of 
emigrants on their way from Salt Lake City to California in 1849. It 
was a portion of the same company which soon after experienced such 
hardships on the desert, and on account of whose sufferings the now 
celebrated Death Valley in California received its name. This early 
rabbit hunt probably took place in the month of October, 1849, some- 
where in the region north of Little Salt Lake, either in Iron or Beaver 
County. Mr. W. L. Manly. 2 one of the members of the party, describes 
the hunt as follows: 

"We came into a long, narrow valley well covered with sage brush, 
and before we had gone very far we discovered that this was a great 
place for long-eared rabbits — we would call them jack rabbits now. 
Everyone who had a gun put it into service on this occasion, and there 
was much popping and shooting on every side. Great clouds of smoke 
rolled up as the hunters advanced, and the rabbits ran in every direc- 
tion to get away. Many ran right among the horses, and under the 
feet of the cattle and under the wagons, so that the teamsters even 
killed some with a whip. At the end of the valley we went into camp, 
and on counting up the game found we had over 500, or about one for 
every person in camp. " 

1 Cones & Yarrow, Rept. Geog. Surv. W. 100th Mevid., V, Zool., 1875, p. 127. 
-Death Valley in '49, 1894, pp. 110-111. 



31r. James L. Bunting, of Kanab, writes that between 1858 and 
1870 rabbits were very abundant on the land between the Jordan 
River and Great Salt Lake. In November and December hunters 
would go out almost daily in parties of from four to six each, and on 
some occasions as many as 500 rabbits were killed in a single day. 

The hunts usually take place in the winter or early spring when the 
snow is on the ground, and are thus described by W. Gr. Nowers in a 
letter dated February, 1887. He says : 

u Our mode of destroying these pests is to select two captains, who 
choose their associates from the community, ami form two attacking 
parties, who ride or go with tirearms, dogs, clubs, and so on, and lay 
siege to every rabbit caught sight of. In some instances the slaughter 
has amounted to nearly 1,000 for each side. These raids are waged on 
every favorable opportunity — after a snowstorm, or monthly, if no snow 
falls, as has been the case this winter." 

Babbit hunts have occurred in a number of places in southwestern 
Utah, but are less common in the northern part of the State. One, how- 
ever, took place near Corinne during the summer of 1894. According 
to Prof. Marcus E. Jones, as many as a dozen or fifteen hunts have 
occurred annually during recent years. One of the largest is described 
by Mr. Vernon Bailey as having taken place near Panguitch, Garfield 
County, in 1885. It lasted three days, and some 80 men and boys took 
part, killing more than 5,000 rabbits within a few miles of the town. 
As will be seen from the following table, the recent Utah hunts are 
small in comparison with those in Colorado or the California drives. 

Partial List of Babbit Hunts itt (tab. 





Beaver County. 

Dec, 1886 

5 oi in 

Do . 



9 3nn 



Feb 1895 . . . 


July. 1887 2,000-»,000 

Dr< : .. 1887, or Jam, 1,500-2,000 

Summer 1S94 sou 4ii() 



Boxelder County . f 

Editor Bugler, Brigham city. 



Garfield County. 


David W. Montague, Panguitch. 

w. L. Manly. 'Death Vail,-. In »49', no 
Will ('. Biggins, Cedar City. 

Iron Coviit;i. 

Xear Little Salt Lake ? 

Cedar City 



Oct. (.'), 1849 

Feb. 24, 1894. 

Deo. 21, L893 

Jan 28 Feb " 1895 








Feb. 11-14, 1895.... 

Spring 1875 

Spring 1885 

Jan. 18,1894 

Jan. 31. 1894 

Jan. 20-26, 1895.... 

Iron Count; Record Feb 15, L895. 
2,000 If . Richards, Jr., Parowan. (Drive). 

1 SOU I),,. 

Will C. 1 1 i _ _ City. 

l. ■-".•ii Iron County Record Feb. 1 

M sars. Dotson & Son report thai 21,000-22,000 rabbits were killed in two months in L887 ai 
t A number of hunts seen to have occurred mar Brighatn < ity and elsewhere, \\ hicta are neo 

omitted here in the absence of sufficient data. The county paid bounties on 12,758 rabbits during the 

years 1893, L894, and L895 m 8 p. 43. 
; Mr. M. Richards, jr., of Parowan giv< the probable cumber of rabbits killed in this 

county during 1894. 


Partial lists of Babbit Hunts in Utah — Continued. 





Millard County. 
( Jorn Crock 

Mar. 27, 1894 

Jan.—, 1893 







Marcus E. Jones, Salt Lake City. 
James A. George, Kanosh. 

D ° 

Sanpete County . 

Jan. (19?), 1894.... 

12, 1895. 

Dec. 14, 1894 

Dec. 3, 1893 

Nov. 29, 1894 

Dec. 8, 1894 

Wayne County. 

Jobn T. Lazenby, Loa. 

John L. May, Salt Lako City. 



Total (26 bunts) ' 

37, 215 


A few large hunts have recently occurred in southern Idaho, but 
greater success has attended the introduction of the rabbit drive. A 
novel method is sometimes employed in Fremont County, the rabbits 
being baited by spreading a line of hay on the snow or on the ground, 
and after they are l lined up > several can be killed at a single shot. 

Mr. T. T. Eutledge, assistant director of the experiment station at 
Nam pa, Canyon County, reports that a small hunt took place about 
September 1894, near that place, but the number killed is unknown. 
In the winter of 1894-95 about 2,600 jack rabbits were killed near Idaho 
Falls, Bingham County, and shipped to Eustice, Xebr., along with grain 
and provisions for distribution among the drought sufferers in that 
State. Another smaller hunt also occurred at Idaho Falls later on. 

While these pages are passing through the press, reports have been 
received indicating that rabbit driving is being successfully carried 
on in the southern part of the State. At Marion, Cassia County, about 
5,000 rabbits were killed in a drive on December 9, 1895. It was esti- 
mated that 500 people were present and that an area of country less 
than 3 miles square was driven over; 4,000 more rabbits were killed at 
the same place during the following week. 

Farther east two smaller drives were held at Market Lake, Fremont 
County. In this case no corrals were built, the rabbits being simply 
driven into the railroad stock yards and afterwards shipped to Salt 
Lake City for distribution among the poor. The following list has been 
brought down to date as far as possible and includes five drives which 
occurred early in January, 1890 : 

Partial List of Idaho Rabbit Drives and Hunts. 





Bingham Cotinty. 
Idaho Falls 

Winter 1894- 



A. V. Scott, Idaho Falls. 



Canyon County. 

Sept.— ,1894 

T. T. Rutledge, Nampa. 



Partial List of Idaho Rabbit Drives (Did Hunts — Continued. 




Ami boritj 

Cassia County. 

Dec. 7, 1895 
Dec. 9, 1895 
Dec, 14,1895 
Dec. 31, 1895 

Jan. :;. 1896 
Jan. 4, 1896 

Feb. 1, 1895 
Feb. 7, 1895 
Feb. it. L895 
Feb, 20,1895 
Jan. L896 
Dec. 80, 1895 
Jan. 4,1896 
Winter 1894- 

Jan. 11,1896 


2, 000 


. 450 








1 \ TiJmaii Marion 

Do . 






Do .. 


Do - 


Fremont County. 



Do . 




Ed Ellsworth, Lewitville. 





E. r. Coltman, Idaho Falls. 

Ed Ellsworth, !.<■« is\ [lie. 

* Drives. 

t Hunts have been reported from Lewiaville for February 14 and 26 ( !), 1895, which arc probably the 
same as those given in this list. Grant, Lewiaville, and Rigby are all within a i<w miles of one 
another; the same hunt may he reported from different places and thus lead to confusion, particularly 
if no dates are given. 


During the last three years a series of rabbit bunts have taken 
place in eastern Colorado, resulting in the destruction of nearly 29, 000 
rabbits. As is the case with the hunts in Utah, no inclosures are built 
and shotguns are the only weapons used. The hunters are usually dis- 
tributed over the ranches in the neighborhood and hunt singly or in 
small parties. The success of these hunts has led to the celebration 
each winter of a * Rabbit Day/ which is set apart for the destruction 
of the pests. In reply to an inquiry concerning the origin of the ens 
torn at Lainar, Mr. J. T. Lawless, editor of the Lamar Sparks, wrote on 
March 4, 1895: 

This portion of Colorado was first settled in 1886, and in 1889 farming by irrigation 
was begun on an extensive scale. The territory under d.^ch is about 18 miles \\ hie. 
North and south of this strip of irrigated land there is little vegetation, and the land 
is valuable chiefly as a stock range. After the first year of fanning by irrigation, 
rabbits increased rapidly, and the farmers were greatly annoyed. The rabbits oame 
from the rainbelt region for miles around and made their headquarters in the alfalfa 
and grain fields and the growing orchards of Prowers County . The great 

increase in the number of rabbits caused much concern, and finally a 1 • i «j. hunt was 
arranged to reduce their numbers. This hunt was confined to people <>f Lamar and 
the county. About fifty-live men participated, and they killed over 1,200 rabbits in 
one day. The following winter another hunt was arranged on similar lines, and tin- 
same number of men brought inabonl 2,000 rabbits. This hunt was followed by tin- 
first annual hunt, in which gunners from all parts of the State participated. That 
was the inauguration of Rabbit Day. Over 4,000 rabbits were killed, and these were 
drawn and shipped to Denver and Pueblo for distribution among the poor, to W horn 
the meat was very acceptable. 

One of the largest and most successful hunts was that of December 
22, 1894, in which 101 gunners took part and secured 5,1 L2 rabbits as 
the result of a day and a half of steady work | sec Plate VI). When 
dressed, these jack rabbits usually average about 6) pounds each, and 



it was estimated that the game obtained in this hunt weighed nearly 5 
tons. The annual hunt on December 19-20, 1895. was less successful, 
owing to a severe storm and deep snow; only about 1,600 rabbits were 

A unique feature of the Colorado hunts is the disposition of the game, 
which is distributed among the poor of Denver and Pueblo. The rab- 
bits are transported free of charge by the railroads and distributed 
mainly under the direction of Eev. Thos. A. Uzzell, of Denver. This 
charitable work was begun about four years ago, and 250 jack rabbits 
were received the first winter; last season 4,500 were distributed in 
Denver alone, and it is said that over 5,000 have been given away each 
season for the last three years. In fact the success of the hunts at 
Lamar in December, 1893, January and December, 1891, was largely 
due to the efforts of Eev. Thos. A. Uzzell, who arranged for the ship- 
ment and distribution of the rabbits. 

List of Colorado Rabbit Hunts.* 


Brush, Morgan County.. 

Lamar, Prowers County. 

Do ".. 

Dec. 28,1894 
Jan. 6,1893 
Dec, 22,1893 
Jan. —,1894 
Jan. 12-13, 

Nov. 25-26, 

Dec. 22. 1894 
Dec. 19-20, 

Las Animas, Bent County Feb. 22, 1893 

Do |Feb. 22,1894 

Do Feb.6-7,1895 






Total (11 bunts) . 


Lamar Sparks, Jan. 3, 1895. 
A. Van Deusen, Lamar. 





Lamar Sparks, Dec. 26. 1895. 

M. R. McCaulev, Las Animas. 

Jacob Weil and M. R. MeCauley. 

28, 666 

* For descriptions of the hunts of December, 1893, and January, 1894, see Shooting and Fishing, Vol. 
XV, January 4, 1894, p. 221, February 1, 1894, p. 303, and American Field, Vol. XLI, March 10. 1894, 
p. 222. For annual hunt of Dec. 19-20, 1895, see Shooting and Fishing, Vol. XIX. Jan. 2. 1896, p. 225. 


A comparison of the foregoing tables will show that California has 
accomplished much more in the way of rabbit destruction than Colo- 
rado, Idaho, Oregon, or Utah, notwithstanding the fact that hunts have 
been held in Utah for nearly half a century. Babbit driving is now on 
the decline in California, but the number of hunts is rapidly increas- 
ing in the other States. The results may be tabulated as follows: 

General Summary of 220 Jack Rabbit Drives and Hunts in the West. 








370, 195 


20, 000 


12, 202 



J 26 

37, 215 



+ 16 



28, 666 


6, 500 


Total number rabbits killed 

Average number per drive 

470, 107 


t Hunts. 

Both drives and hunts. 



The question may well be asked whether the jack rabbit has any 
value or can be utilized in anyway. In ls!)o the Royal Commission of 
New South Wales suggested that * k rabbits may be used for food, either 
fresh, frozen, canned, jerked, or as sou]): for their skins and fur In the 
manufacture of gloves and felt; for extracting glue and oil; and for 
reduction to manure." 1 Nevertheless they discouraged the principle 
of commercial utilization on the ground that it would lead to the pres- 
ervation of the rabbits instead of their destruction. Bui after many 
experiments with poisons, diseases, traps, and other methods of destruc- 
tion, and an outlay of millions of dollars for fences, tliis very method 
has recently been advocated as the most promising, by the Hon. J. II. 
Carruthers, Minister for Lands in New South Wales. In his opening 
address to the rabbit conference, held at Sydney on April 2, L895, In- 
said : 

One feature of the rabbit question has not. it is thought, received sufficient atten- 
tion at the hands of the sufferers in this colony, and that is tin- commercial utilization 
of the animal. In the past suggestions of this character have met with condem- 
nation on the ground that it would lead to the conservation of the rabbit, but it 
would appear that the time for such argument has disappeared. Experience in the 
past leads to the belief that the rabbit is a fixture;, and there should be n<> reason 
why persons resident in localities suitable for the purpose should m>r seriously con- 
sider why the animal should not be made to contribute to tin; cost of its own 
destruction. It is, of course, apparent that operations of this character would only 
be possible over a limited area of the infested country: but with the easy means of 
reaching foreign markets, it is worthy of consideration whether the carcass of tin- 
rabbit may not be used as an article of food, either frozen or canned, and whether the 
skins and far may not be profitably applied in the manufacture of gloves and felt. 5 

In this country, however, the larger hares have been \\>n\ in only a 
few of the ways suggested by tin.' Royal Commission of New South 
Wales, viz, (1) for sport, especially in coursing. (2) for their skins, and 
(3) for food. 

The pursuit of the jack rabbit furnishes excellent spoil with the 
shotgun or rifle as well as to the mounted rider eager for a trial of 
speed with hounds. It is often a difficult matter to gel a shot it* the 
rabbit happens to be somewhat wary, but on the other hand, if the 
game is abundant and not too shy. large numbers may be readily killed. 

1 Final Rept. Royal Com. Inquiry Exterm. Rabbits, Australasia, L890, p. I. 
-Kept. Proceedings Conference Rabbit Pest. New South Wales, Sydney, 1896, p. 7 
8615- -No. 8 5 


In one of the large Colorado hunts, which are conducted mainly for 
sport, two men shooting together at Lamar, in December 1894, secured 
412 rabbits in two days. For the rifle, a jack rabbit on the run makes 
a line target, and one requiring skill and steadiness to hit. Hunting on 
horseback with shotguns is considered much more exciting than on 
foot and requires considerable skill in riding as well as in shooting. 
Hunting the jack rabbit with hounds, however, is a form of sport which 
seems to be increasing in popular favor, notwithstanding the fact that 
it is considered cruel by some. 


The adaptability of the large hares for coursing has long been recog- 
nized. They are certainly superior in speed to any of the smaller 
rabbits, but whether they are better than the Old World Hare is still 
an open question. Thus far the evidence seems to be in favor of the 
jack. Says Van Dyke 1 in speaking of coursing in California: 

A dash after the hare on a good horse and behind good dogs is one of the most 
charming of outings. The horse enjoys the sport as well as the dogs do, and tries 
his best to outrun the procession. The ground flies beneath you, the surrounding 
mountains swim in a haze, the whole amphitheater seems to turn around while 
you are standing still. Vainly the hare twists and sends the dogs spinning ahead 
in confusion, while he scuds away on his new tack without the loss of an instant, 
so far as you can see. All ordinary dogs fall out of the race. Even the wiry and 
swift coyote, though he loves hare more than anything else, rarely if ever feels 
hungry enough for a stern chase. But if the greyhounds are good and tlie brush 
not too near, the hare's doubling only postpones his end, however untiring his foot, 
or frequent his twists. Vainly he lays his ears flatter upon his neck and lets out 
another link of his reserved speed. Before he has made many turns he is caught — 
perhaps in mid-air — and the dogs and hare go rolling over in a heap together. 

Coursing began in California in the early sixties, and has since been 
carried on with more or less spirit by various clubs. About twenty 
years ago the old Los Angeles Coursing Club used to follow the jack 
rabbits with greyhounds on the mesa near Pasadena, and women as 
well as men took part in the sport. 2 In 1872 the Pioneer Coursing 
Club of San Francisco held the first of a series of meetings at Merced. 
Since 1890 the meetings of the Interstate Coursing Club have been held 
at this place, which has become one of the principal coursing centers 
on the Pacific Coast. Other meetings have been held at Newark, San 
Prancisco, and near Los Angeles. 

The American Coursing Club was the first club east of the Pocky 
Mountains to use jack rabbits, and in October, 1886, inaugurated a 
series of annual meetings which were continued up to 1892 on the 
Cheyenne bottoms, near Great Bend, Kans. In 1894 and 1895 the club 
met at Huron, S. Dak. The National Coursing Association, of Hutch- 
inson, Kans., was organized in 1888, with a capital stock of $50,000, and 

l The Land of Sunshine, Los Angeles, Cal., Ill, Aug. 1895, pp. 116-117. 
2 Forest and Stream, XXVIII, Jan. 27, 1887, p. 3. 


flourished for two or three years. Its object was to develop coursing 
in the United States, by breeding rabbits on their own soil and 
shipping them to various parts of theconntryin order thai meetings 
might be held in the large cities and a more general interest aroused. 1 

The association had '>¥20 acres at Hutchinson inclosed with a wire mesh 
fence, and imported jack rabbits from California, New .Mexico, and 
Wyoming and turned them loose in this park where in a few months 

a large number were collected. -Inclosed coursing,' i. e. running the 
rabbits in an inclosure instead of on the open plain, was introduced at 
the meeting-, held on October 23, 1888, A track half a mile long and 75 
yards wide was arranged inside the park. The rabbits were started at 
one end of the track and at the other were allowed to escape from the 
hounds, through small openings, into a pen, where they were caught 
for use in another race.- The National Coursing Association held 
meetings in 1889 at St. Louis, Mo., and Louisville, K\\. and fifty jack 
rabbits were shipped from the park at Hutchinson to be used in the 
latter meeting. In 181)0 it held a series of meetings at St. Louis, Kan- 
sas Oily, and St. Joseph, Mo.; Colorado Springs and Denver, Colo.; 
Omaha and Lincoln, Xebr., and Council Bluffs, Iowa. 

Coursing has received a wonderful impetus in the West during tin- 
last ten years largely through the work of these two clubs, the Inter- 
state Coursing Club of Merced, Cab, and the Occidental Club of 
Newark, Oal. Since 1890 numerous local clubs have been organized in 
Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Texas, Colorado, and 
southern California, and no small number of rabbits are required 
annually for these meetings. 

The demand for rabbits for this sport seems to have been largely 
instrumental in bringing about the rabbit drives in California, and as 
many as a thousand or more have been obtained in one of the large 
drives. Nearly all the rabbits for coursing in this State come from 
the San Joaquin Valley. Some of them are caught near Goshen, where 
they are shipped in coops, containing 24 single stalls arranged in two 
rows. From 50 to 100 are sometimes required for a single meeting, and 
the wholesale price varies from $5.50 to $9 per dozen. 

At Wichita, Kans., and Merced, Oal., several persons regularly trap 
rabbits for coursing. At Wichita, Mr. ('has. Payne captures jack rab- 
bits by means of a net about a mile in length, made of common cotton 
seine twine, which is stretched straight across a field. On one side are 
attached short nets at an angle with the main net. formings number of 
Vs. The rabbits are driven toward the trap by <i to L0 men on horse- 
back, and 10 to -0 rabbits are considered a good catch for one day. 
Shipping boxes are so arranged that each animal is in a separate com- 
partment, and the largest hold about a dozen rabbits. >• me of these 

'Am. Field, XXX. Nov. 24, 1888, p. ",04. 

2 See illustrated article on "Jack Babbits and Inclosed Coursing,'* by M. E. 
Allison, in Am. Field, XXXIII. Apr. 26, 1890, pp. 395-396. 


jack rabbits bring $2 apiece, and they have been shipped to various 
X>oints in the United States and Canada, and even to England. Last 
winter (1894-95), between 200 and 300 were furnished to the St. Louis 
Coursing Association alone. 


Babbit skins are used in greater quantities than those of any other 
animals except the true fur-bearing mammals. At present skins of 
jack rabbits have little commercial value, and no attempt appears to 
be made to utilize them on a large scale. It seems strange that where 
the animals are slaughtered in such numbers the skins are not made 
to yield a fair profit, as is done with those of other species. Their use 
for fur seems to be restricted mainly to the Indians. 

The Piutes and other tribes of the Great Basin formerly relied to a 
considerable extent on the rabbit for furnishing their scanty supply of 
clothing, and in Idaho, Nevada, and Utah killed large numbers of 
jack rabbits for this purpose. 

Says Bancroft in speaking of the Indians of this region : " On the 
barren plains of Nevada, where there is no large game, the rabbit fur- 
nishes the only clothing. The skins are sewn together in the form of a 
cloak, which is thrown over the shoulders, or tied about the body with 
thongs of the same. In warm weather, or when they can not obtain 
rabbit skins, men, women, and children are, for the most part, in a state 
of nudity." (Native Eaces of the Pacific States, I, 1874, pp. 423-424.) 

Mr. Vernon Bailey, chief field naturalist of the division, who has 
traveled extensively in this region and seen the robes in use among 
the Indians, has kindly contributed the following notes : 

A good robe serves an Indian both for clothing and for bedding. It is exceed- 
ingly light, soft, and warm, and is easily carried in a small roll on the horse or in 
the pack when not in use. A Piute with an old shirt, a pair of breeches, moccasins, 
and one of these robes is well equipped for traveling, even in cold weather. In the 
wickiup the robe is thrown down and serves as a seat during the day and for a bed 
at night. 

Robes of jack rabbit skins are common articles of clothing among the Piute and 
Mohave Indians. I have seen them among the Pyramid Lake Indians, the Piutes in 
Reese River Valley, Nevada, and the Mohaves at Fort Mohave, Ariz. They are usually 
6 or 7 feet square, large enough to wrap around the body and entirely cover the 
person. They are made of twisted strips of jack rabbit skins laid parallel close 
together and fastened at short intervals with strings. The skins, apparently, are 
not tanned, but the robes are as soft and pliable as a blanket, and by twisting the 
strips the fur is thrown on both sides. These robes are generally valued at $6 to $8> 
but the Indians seem reluctant to part with them. One old Mohave upon being 
askod to sell his robe, refused, saying: "Me no make 'em. Hualapai make 'em, me 
buy 'em." 

Jack rabbits were doubtless used also by the Indians of California, 
although to a less extent. The Mi wok, a tribe whose territorry 
extended from the crest of the Sierra Nevada to the San Joaquin 
River, and from the Oosumnes to the Fresno in a part of the San Joa- 


quin Valley where the jack rabbit is now extremely abundant, need 
rabbit skins for making robes. They cu1 the skins Into narrow strips, 
and after drying them in the sun, laid them close together and made a 
rude warp, by tying or sewiug strings across ;it intervals of a few 
inches. 1 

In order to show some of the uses to which jack rabbit skins might be 
put, it will be necessary to rci<-r briefly to the general trade in rabbit 
skius and some of the ways in which the lower grades are utilized. 
The annual collection of English rabbit skins is about 30,000,000, and 
50,000 to 80,000 dozen (600,000 to 000,000) are imported from Prance and 
Belgium. These skins are dyed and sold for fur to be used for cups. 
boas, muffs, and trimmings of various kinds, and are used for felting, 
especially iu the manufacture of hats. Skins for felting are cut open. 
washed, and the long hairs pulled out with wooden knives; the far is 
then cut off by machinery, sorted, and blown by air. The far from 
different parts of the body is separated and sold at different prices. 
The best Coney back wool used in the manufacture of felt hats brings 
from 5s. to 7s. Od. per pound. - 

In the United States skins of native rabbits are used for far, if at 
all, only for trimmings, as the hair is too brittle and they have very 
little underfill 1 . Large numbers, however, are used for felt in the 
manufacture of hats. It is estimated by one of the leading farriers in 
New York that 1,500,000 native skins are collected annually in this 
country. In addition to these, rabbit skins are imported, not only 
from Great Britain and the continent of Europe, but even from Aus- 
tralia. Xative skins are mainly those of the cottontail (Lepus sylvat- 
icus). and the supply is derived largely from Maryland, Virginia, and 
North Carolina. They are assorted into three grades, 'primes,' •sec- 
onds,' and 'culls.' Prime skins are those of full-grown animals with 
bright pelts; 'seconds,' of half grown animals; while the torn or imper- 
fect pelts are classed as 'culls.' The prices range from 1 .J up to 4 
cents apiece, averaging during 1895 about 1J to 2 or 2j cents for the 
best skins. Imported skins are considered superior to those of "cot- 
tontails," averaging in value about 3.J cents each, although the best 
French rabbit skins are worth 5 cents. One of the New York dealers 
reports that skins of the native hare, probably the Varying Hare 
(Lepus americanus), are worth cents each, but that very few are 
received in a season. England, however, in 1891 received 36,286 skins 
of the American Varying Hare from the Hudson Bay Company, and 
50,000 from other traders. It may be stated here that the Hudson 
Bay Company has been shipping rabbit skins to England tor more than 
one hundred years. Most of these are skins of Lepus emerioanue, and 
according to Poland 3 the total number exported between 1788 and 181 

•Powers, Tribes of California. Cont. X. Am. Ethnology, Vol. III. L877, p. 161. 
'Poland, Fnr -bearing Animals, London. L892, p. 281 el seq. 

3 Loc. cit., pp. xxiii-xxvii, l'TG-l'TT. 



was 3,333,933, or an average of 39,750 for the eighty-four years for 
which statistics are available. 

Babbit skins have formed a large item of export from Australasia, 
chiefly from the colonies of New Zealand, Tasmania, and Victoria, for 
nearly twenty years. In Victoria the number exported increased nearly 
fifteenfold from 1876 to 1893, when it reached 10,374,154. Shipments 
from New Zealand were trebled between 1879 and 1893, reaching in 
the latter year over 17,000,000, valued at about £140,000 or nearly 
$700,000. The following table shows the number of skins exported 
from Australasia so far as figures are available: 

Export of Eabbit Skins from Australia, New Zealand, and Tasmania.* 

New Zealand. 



S. Australia. 


Number of 


Number of 


Number of 






56, 504 
111, 142 
311, 632 
918, 236 
636, 409 
5, 384, 506 

7, 505, 616 

8, 514, 685 
9, 198, 837 

9, 891, 805 
9, 807, 665 
9, 168, 114 
8, 546, 254 

12, 743, 452 
11, 809, 407 
12, 543, 293 

14, 302, 233 

15, 899, 787 
17, 041, 106 
14, 267, 385 

£1, 263 





33, 460 

46. 799 

66, 976 

84, 774 

88, 725 

100, 955 

107, 514 

85, 754 

65, 694 

111, 172 

91, 908 

96, 039 

111, 880 

126, 251 

121, 775 

138, 952 

87, 993 




724, 985 
700, 565 
711, 844 

1, 036, 372 

3, 309, 408 

4, 473, 108 
4, 929, 432 
4, 245, 596 
4, 963, 371 

910. 609 

2, 663. 314 

3, 967, 533 

3, 429, 015 

4, 913, 351 

6, 359, 210 

7, 501, 864 
*10, 374, 154 

£6, 711 




21, 674 


37, 538 

30. 364 

37, 243 

23, 548 


16, 294 

20, 759 

12, 303 

25, 667 

31. 367 

3i; 905 

55, 039 






1882 . . 

1, 735, 856 

1, 730, 628 

2, 872, 896 
1, 184, 862 
2, 181, 068 
1, 819, 547 

2, 991. 316 

3, 241, 351 
3, 180, 104 
3, 590, 474 
3, 541, 464 

£15, 699 
20, 367 
14, 537 

22, 572 

17, 555 
12, 661 
11, 369 
24, 362 
19, 571 
17, 097 

23, 278 
16, 194 

1883 . 














11, 320 








10, 973 

Total J . . . . 

180, 037, 562 

1, 586, 723 

31, 912, 182 

222, 562 

68, 637, 990 

408, 747 


68, 958 

The importation of Australian rabbit skins in London, as shown by 
reports of sales, aggregated 8,210 bales in 1890-91, and from July, 
1894, to July, 1895, amounted to 13,140 bales, each averaging about 
400 pounds and containing about 4,000 skins. The total number in 
1894-95 was, therefore, about 52,500,000 skins, valued (at $70 per bale) 
at nearly $1,000,000. 

It should be noticed that no less than one-third of the Australian 
skins sent to London are said to be exported to New York. There 
are now 20 cutters of hatter's fur in America, employing about 160 
machines. Each machine will cut on an average 1,200 skins a day, 

"Compiled from Statistics Colony New Zealand, 1881-1890: New Zealand Year Books, 1891-1895; 
Statistics Colony Tasmania, 1882-1894; Victorian Year Book. 1893, II. p. 262, 1894. I, p. 437; Statistical 
Register South Australia, 1885-1894. 

1Tlie returns from New Zealand for 1873-1880 are taken from IT. S. Consular Repts.,VI. 1882, p. 122. 
The values arc only approximate, being reduced from dollars at the rate of £1 — $5 — the rate appar- 
ently used in obtaining the value for 1881 in the Consular Report. Returns for 1891-1894 are taken 
from the Year Books under reports of export of wool. 

The total exports from Australasia can not be obtained from these figures as some of the skins 
from New Zealand and Tasmania were shipped to other OOlonies, particularly Victoria, and such skins 
ni;i\ have been reexported ; e. g., the direct exports from Tasmania to Europe from 1886 to 1892 formed 
a v i \ small percentage ot the total exports, the bulk of the skins being shipped to Victoria. 


producing 75 pounds of cut fur. If all the machines weir kept run- 
ning for two hundred and fifty days per annum they would require 

48,000,000 rabbit and hare skins. The output of fur would be about 
3,000,000 pounds, which, valued ;it 85 cents per pound, would give a 
total of $2,550,000; deducting $000,000 for cost of cutting, estimated 
at 20 cents per pound of fur, the value would be $1,950,000.' 

Jack rabbit skins apparently have not been utilized to any great 
extent, but if they can not compete with the besl Dative or foreign 
skins in quality, they certainly can be used lor many purposes for 
which skins of inferior grades are employed. In addition to being 
utilized for fur and felt, rabbit skins are used tor making gelatine, 
jujube, sizing, and glue, and in Spain it is said that tin- hair is some- 
times used in place of down. For these purposes skins of jack rabbits 
ought to be as good as any. If skins can be shipped from Australia to 
the United States by way of London and then sold at a profit tm :; 
cents apiece, there ought to be a large market for native skins. Jack 
rabbit skins can be collected with such facility in the West that they 
could probably be sold at a lower price than those of the cottontail or 
any imported skins of the same grade and still allow a margin of profit 


Between the months of October and March, jack rabbits are sold in 
considerable quantities in the larger cities of the United States from 
San Francisco to Boston, and from St. Paul to New Orleans. Both the 
Prairie Hare and the Blacktailed Jack Kabbit are shipped to Eastern 
markets, but in California the Texan Hare and the California Jack 
Rabbit are the only ones, commonly sold. The business of handling 
this game is larger than is generally supposed, and while by no means 
equal to the trade in cottontails, is capable of being developed into 
an important industry to the mutual benefit of the consumer and of the 
farmer who suffers from the depredations of the rabbits. 


Many persons have a prejudice against eating jack rabbits because 
the animals are infested at certain seasons with parasites, or because 
the tlesh is supposed to be 'strong.' This prejudice, however, is 
entirely unfounded. The parasites of the rabbit are not injurious to 
man; furthermore, the ticks and warbles occur at a season when the 
rabbits should not be killed for game, while the tapeworm can only 
develop in certain of the lower animals, e. g„ in the dog or the 
coyote. The most important parasites of the jack rabbit are ticks 
(Ixodes) and larva? of a fly (Cutercbra) and of a tapeworm Taenia . 
Ticks are especially troublesome during the summer and may sometimes 
be found clustered about the ears in great numbers. A large fly of 

^bese figures have been kindly furnished by Meean. J. J'. McGoveni a Bro.j 

importers and far brokers, of New York. 


the genus Cuterebra attacks these hares as it does deer, squirrels, and 
wood rats, and punctures the skin in order to find a suitable place to 
lay its eggs. The egg hatches soon after being deposited, and the 
parasitic larva, becoming incased in a capsule immediately beneath the 
skin of its host, forms a lump sometimes an inch or more in length, 
which is usually known as a i warble.' These warbles are most often 
seen in July or August. The larva emerges from its case in due time 
as a perfect insect, and the wound heals, leaving little or no scar. On 
some of the rabbits brought to market large l water blisters' or 'boils' 
are occasionally found, which are the larvae of a tapeworm (Tcenia 
scrialis). This larva is called Ccenurns serialise and has been found 
in the California Jack Rabbit (Lepus calif ornicus), the Prairie Hare 
(L. campestris), the Old World Hare (L. timidus) and rabbit (L. cu- 
nicidus), the coypu of South America (Myopotamus coypu), a species of 
squirrel (Sciurus), and in the horse. 2 Ccenurus does not develop into 
the adult tapeworm in any of these animals; but in the dog, and in 
the coyote, which eats many rabbits, it reaches the adult stage. 

It is sometimes said that trichinosis may result from eating jack rab- 
bits, and such reports are occasionally circulated by the press. The 
State board of health of Iowa recently published a report on trichi- 
nosis, in which it referred to the source of the disease iu the following 
terms, implying that there was danger of infection from rabbits: "In 
all cases known the hog has been the source of the disease in human 
beings, so it maybe said of nearly, if not all cases, that they are caused 
by eating trichinosed pork, although the rabbit and the hare are con- 
sidered not behind the hog in susceptibility to trichinosis. Hogs 
become infected mostly from rats, and rabbits and hares become mouse 
hunters in winter." (Seventh Biennial Report, 1893, p. 80.) 

Hares and rabbits rarely if ever eat mice or other small mammals, 
and the danger of infection from this source is of no practical impor- 
tance. It may be confidently stated that there is no authentic case of 
trichinosis in rabbits on record, except in those which have been pur- 
posely infected. Until it can be shown that trichinae are actually found 
in our native species, no danger need be apprehended in using rabbits 
as game. 


It would be interesting to know the extent to which jack rabbits are 
sold in the United States, but unfortunately it is practically impossi- 
ble to obtain complete statistics. All that is possible is to cite a few 
cases which will give some idea of the business. A correspondent in 
Goshen, Gal., states that he sent at one time (February 10, 1889), after 

^or a popular account of these 'blisters' see an article entitled "Csenurus of 
the Hare," by Katherine Brandegee, in Zoe, Vol. I, Nov., 1890, pp. 265-268. 

2 This list of hosts of Tcenia scrialis has been kindly furnished by Dr. C. Wardell 
Stiles, Zoologist of the Bureau of Animal Industry, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture. 


one of the large drives, as many as 400 jack rabbits to the San Fran- 
cisco market. In the fall of 1892 one of his neighbors made a business 
of market hunting, sometimes killing six dozen jack rabbits per day, 
and in one week he secured 20 dozen. This man shot from a one horse 
buckboard, and nearly all the game was retrieved and brought to the 
wagon by his setter. During the autumn of L894 three men and a boy 
killed about 200 rabbits per day and sent them to San Francisco. The 
shipments from Goshen during the month of November L804, amounted 
to about 1,000 jack rabbits, weighing 3,800 pounds. 

Two hunters in Kern County, Cal., made a series of thirteen rabbit 
drives last winter for the purpose of obtaining rabbits for market. 
These drives were made in various localities near Delano, beginning on 
November 14, 1894. More than 25,000 jack rabbits were secured and 
about two-thirds of them were shipped, bringing from 5<> cents bo -^ 1 .25 
per dozen in San Francisco. The venture, however, proved nnsuccess 
ful, as the expenses for sacks, twine, commission, and transportation 
amounted to 01 cents per dozen and many of the rabbits spoiled in 
transit. It was claimed that if the bounty had not been removed there 
would have been a profit instead of a loss. 

Many jack rabbits are shipped to market from Kansas. Norton, 
Winona, and other places in the western part of the State send the 
game to Denver, while from points in central and southern Kansas a 
good deal is shipped direct to New York and other Eastern cities. 
A commission merchant in Great Bend, Kans., states that he shipped 
about 4,200 jack rabbits (350 dozen) during the winter of 1893-94 and 
about 0,000 (500 dozen) during the winter of 1894-95. Most of this 
game was sent to Kansas City, Chicago, New York, Baltimore, and 
Boston. Considerable quantities are also shipped to the New York 
market from Independence, Kans. A single invoice of several hundred 
pair was received from that point in the winter of 1889-90, and a com- 
mission merchant writes that his shipments from Independence have 
been increasing gradually during the last few years at the rate of 200 
to 300 per year. In the winter of 1894-95 he shipped about 1,000 jack 
rabbits direct to New York. McPherson County is one of the main 
shipping centers iu the State, and a dealer in Marquette writes that he 
handled 2,046 jack rabbits last season. The freight traffic manager of 
the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad reports that three car- 
loads were forwarded from McPherson in the winter of 1893-94, two 
consigned to Chicago and one to New York. Last season the McPher- 
son Produce Company handled 7,927 jack rabbits, and the total ship- 
ments from that place average about live carloads, or 20,000 rabbits a 
season, 75 per cent being sent to New York. The game is not often for- 
warded in carload lots, but is usually shipped with dressed poultry in 
ordinary refrigerator cars. 

The Black-eared Jack Rabbit | Lepus melanotic) is the principal species 
shipped from Kansas, but the white-tailed Prairie Hare ( L. oampestrii 


is sold in even greater numbers in Eastern cities, and the bulk of the 
supply probably conies from the Dakotas, Nebraska, Minnesota, and 
Iowa. In Newcastle, Wyo., a single hunter killed over 100 Prairie 
Hares for market during the season of 1893-94. One dealer in Pier- 
point, Day County, S. Dak., reports that he has shipped from 1,200 to 
1,500 per annum for the last three years, and a correspondent in Water- 
town, S. Dak., writes that probably 50,000 rabbits were killed in Cod- 
ington County, S. Dak., last season, although not all were used for 
food. The severe winter following the drought of 1894 resulted in the 
destruction of larger numbers than usual, and no doubt many persons 
in Dakota and Nebraska gladly availed themselves of this source of 

As already stated, part of the game in California is secured by 
means of rabbit drives. In eastern Colorado large quantities are killed 
during the annual hunts at Lamar and Las Animas, but as the rabbits 
are killed for sport, and not especially for market, many of them are 
donated to the poor of Denver and Pueblo. In Kansas large numbers 
of jack rabbits are killed after heavy snowfalls, and in Chautauqua and 
Montgomery counties it is said that the farmers sometimes bring them 
in by the wagon load; the hunters usually receive about 10 cents apiece 
for them. Near McPherson one method of hunting is to stretch a wire 
between two wagons about 200 yards apart, and allow it to drag in the 
grass or stubble as they proceed. As the rabbits are started they are 
shot from the wagons or by two hunters who follow behind. In this 
vicinity the prices vary from 15 cents apiece in October, down to 5 
cents in January. 

Jack rabbits are shipped to market either by express or freight. At 
Goshen, Cal., they are cleaned and hung up over night to cool off, and 
are then simply placed in barley sacks (each holding from 25 to 30), 
and sent by express. Kansas shippers usually forward the game by 
ordinary freight during cold weather, but at other times in refrigerator 
cars. Some pack the rabbits without ice in boxes holding from 2J 
to 3 dozen each; others wrap the game in paper or excelsior and pack 
it in barrels containing 4 or 5 dozen rabbits. Another method is 
simply to cord them up in refrigerator cars, thus saving the cost of 
packages and packing. 


Jack rabbits usually bring from 75 cents to $3 per dozen, depending 
on the demand and the expense of shipping. In some cases they are 
sold at a much higher figure. During the winter of 1890 some black- 
tailed jack rabbits were sold at retail in the New York market at $1.50 
per pair, 1 and in December 1895, a few Prairie Hares were retailed in 
the Washington market at $1 apiece. 

Yearns, Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist., II, Feb., 1890, p. 298, footnote. 



The following table shows the ordinary market prices in some of the 
larger cities for the season of 1894-9.") : 

Market Prices of Jack Rabbit*, 1894 



l'n: e per pair. 

i'ii« ■« pet 

pri< e per 
dozen dnr- 

i -mi. 

San Francisco, Cal 

Oct. 20 1894 

. 75 I. 00 

.75- 1.00 



Oct 27 Nov. 24, 1894 

Jan 12, 1895 

i -l.uij 


Feb. 9 1896 


1 25 

Chicago, 111 < 

Dec. 1, 1894 

Dec. 15, 1S94 

Feb. 23-Mar. 2, 1895 

2. On 

1.50 2.00 
1.75- 2.50 

\ 1.5C 

St Paul Minn 

i 2.00- 2.75 
1.75 :i.oO 

2 25 

Jan. 26-Feb. 2, 1895 


Dec. 29. 1 894 

$0. 25-|0. 50 
.40- .60 

. 40- . 55 

] . 51 1 

X.w York, X.Y 5 

Washington, D. C 

I 2.40- 3.45 

Jan. 26- Feb. 2, 1895 


* Returns for Boston, New York, and Chicago arc taken from the market review in the American 
Agriculturist, Vols. LIV and LV; for San Francisco, from the Pacific Rural Press, Vois. \ I, VIII and 
XI.IX: figures lor St. Louis have been kindly furnished by the St. Louis Poultry and Game Company; 
for St. Paul, by B, E. Cobb: for New Orleans, by Messrs. H. ^ S. lilum, and fox Denver, by II, 0. 
Mungcr & Co. 

As might naturally be supposed, some of the largest markets for 
jack rabbits are in the cities of California where the game is sold at a 
lower price than elsewhere. San Francisco probably uses more than 
any other single city in the United States, and it is said that this game 
is received during the winter months at the rate of 100 to 160 dozen 
per day. An estimate obtained by the board of trade from the com- 
mission merchants places the total number consumed per annum at 
about 96,000. The game is supplied principally by the counties of 
Fresno, Merced, and Tulare, in the San Joaquin Valley. Los Angeles 
is supplied by the southern counties of Los Angeles, Orange, River- 
side, San Bernardino, and San Diego. The number sold as estimated 
by the Chamber of Commerce, averages from 12 to 15 dozen per week 
the year round, or approximately 7,500 to 9,200 per annum, most of 
which is received during the winter months. 

An estimate furnished by the Chamber of Commerce places the num- 
ber of jack rabbits sold in Salt Lake City. Utah, during the winter of 
1894-95 at 10,000 to 15,000. Many more were given away, and the sec- 
retary, Mr. E. F. Colburn. explains that perhaps more were consumed 
than usual, owing to the fact that the rabbits were slaughtered in large 
numbers in regular hunts and were donated to the poor. In Denver. 
Colo., large numbers of jack rabbits are donated to the poor, but many 
are also sold as game. One commission house reports that for the last 
ten years they have handled from 13,000 to 15,000 each season, although 
large quantities are rarely found in market at any one time. The game 
comes from the eastern part of the State and from western Nebraska 
and Kansas. Omaha, Nebr., is supplied by the western part of the 



State and by Wyoming, largely from the region between the Fremont, 
Elkhorn and Missouri Valley and the Burlington and Missouri Eiver 
railroads. No reliable statistics of the number consumed in Kansas 
City, Mo., are at hand, the estimates ranging from a few hundred dozen 
up to about 75,000. 

Texas probably furnishes most of the rabbits sold in the markets of 
its principal towns as well as some of those in New Orleans. Only a 
limited number of 'jacks' are used in New Orleans — probably not more 
than 25 per cent of the total number of rabbits sold — and these are 
shipped mainly from points along the Kansas City, Fort Scott and 
Memphis Railroad. 

Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn., receive their main shipments from 
North and South Dakota and Minnesota. It is reported that 12,000 j ack ■ 
rabbits (1,000 dozen) were handled by a single commission house in St. 
Paul during last winter, probably nine-tenths of which were obtained 
from the Dakotas, the remainder being received from Minnesota and 

Estimates of the number of jack rabbits sold in the markets of some 
of the cities west of the Mississippi Eiver have been obtained from 
boards of trade, chambers of commerce, or reliable commission mer- 
chants, and are shown in the following table. Such figures are only 
approximate, but in most cases are based on the sales of the season of 

Estimates of Jack Rabbits sold in Western Cities. 


Number of 


7, 500-9, 200 

96, 000 

30, 000 



25, 000 

* 12, 000 

1 25, 000 

35, 000 

60, 000 

10, 000-15, 000 

H. O. Munger «fc Co. 

Pueblo, Colo 

R. E. Cobb. 

St. Louis Poultry and Game Co. 

Peycke Bros. 
J. P. White. 

Salt Lake City, Utah 

Handled by a single commission house. 

t Approximate. 

Most of the jack rabbits sold in Chicago, St. Louis, New York, 
Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington seem to come from 
the Great Plains — from Kansas to North Dakota — but the attempt to 
secure accurate statistics from Eastern cities is almost hopeless, as 
quantities of the large Varying Hares (Lepus amcricanus) are also 
received and sold indiscriminately with jack rabbits under the name of 

These data will give some idea of the extent to which jack rabbits 
are shipped to market. The total number sold in the cities men- 
tioned above is about 300,000. Allowing an equal number for local 
consumption in small towns and for those sold in other cities would 



give 600,000 as a very rough approximation of the total Dumber con- 
sumed in the United States per annum. Estimated al the rate of $1.50 

to 82 per dozen the total value would be about $75,000 or $100,000. 
This, however, is only a small proportion of the total Dumber of rabbits 
used as game, since cottontails are sold everywhere in much larger 

In connection with these figures it will be interesting to compare the 
number of rabbits sold in one of the large cities of Australia. Mel- 
bourne, the capital of Victoria, according to the census of L891, had a 
population of 490,896 — somewhat more than that of Sail Francisco, OaL 
The following table from the Victorian Year Book for L893(Vol. II. p.262) 
shows the number of rabbits sold in Melbourne during the seven years 
from 1886 to 1893: 

Number of Babbits shipped t>> markets of Melbourne, Australia, 


Number of coaplea of rabbita — 



1886-87 346, 856 4,4 60 

1887-88 ' 418. 618 L', Trl 

1888-89. 474,384 13,458 

1889-90 606, 568 11, 567 

L890-91 676,796 5,955 

1891-92 ' 572,426 17.977 

1892-93 617,773 19,275 

Total couples 3, 713, 421 

Total rabbits 7. 420. 842 149, 928 

Average per annum 1,060,977 21,418 



618, 135 


590, 103 


74. '.-•,! :;. 788,385 

7. 576, 770 

Evidently rabbits are more extensively used for food in Australia 
than in this country, but in comparing the figures it should be remem- 
bered that the statistics for Melbourne include the total number of 
rabbits sold, whereas those given for jack rabbits consumed in the 
cities of the United States represent only a part of the rabbits sold. 

England imports, it is said, about 124,000 hundredweight of rabbits 
yearly for food, which are valued at £:>42,000. 1 

So far as known, little or nothing has been done in the United States 
in the way of canning jack rabbits, although the subject has been 
discussed occasionally. When rabbit driving was being agitated in 
Tulare County, Gal., the Visalia Delta of January 20, 1SSS. published an 
article on "Money in Kabbits," which advocated canning some <>f the 
jack rabbits which were being killed in large numbers at that time. The 
article was based mainly on statistics of the industry in New Zealand, 
and apparently the suggestion has never been adopted, at least Dot on a 
commercial scale. After making special inquiries concerning the utili- 
zation of rabbits. Mr. 0. I>. Willard. secretary of the Los Angeles 
Chamber of Commerce, reports: "No use whatever i- made of the 

Sinmionds, Commercial Dictionary of Trade Products, London. 1892, 


skins here, and as far as 1 can learn no one has ever heard of canning 
the meat." Mr. D. 11. Payne, of Independence, Oal., writes under date 
of September 18, 1S95: "Many years ago there was a cannery engaged 
in putting up all kinds of wild game, and probably they used some 
jack rabbits, but during my long residence in California I never saw 
them in the market put up in cans." 

There seems no good reason why rabbits can not be profitably 
canned, and some commission merchants claim that this would relieve 
the glut in the market at certain times in winter and bring about 
better prices. Several preserving companies are in operation in Vic- 
toria and in New Zealand. In October, 1886, Hon. James M. Morgan, 
then United States consul- general at Melbourne, Australia, reported 
that "in the Golac and Camperdown district [Victoria] a preserving 
factory was started some few years back and operations carried on with 
vigor, the factory working each year for about six months, from March 
to October, and during that period purchasing from 750,000 to 1,000,000 
rabbits, the price paid being about 2s. 6d. per dozen. These rabbits 
are nearly all obtained from the stony rises and surrounding districts, 
as they can not be sent to the factory in proper condition from any 
great distance." (U. S. Consular Eepts. for Dec, 1886, XX, pp. 482-481.) 


(1) The various species of jack rabbits are all more or less alike in 
habits, and all feed largely on bark and herbage. 

(2) When food is easily obtained, and particularly on newly culti- 
vated land, the rabbits increase rapidly and do great damage to crops. 
The black-tailed species are more gregarious than the Prairie Hare, 
and as a rule are more destructive. 

(3) The best means of protecting crops from the attacks of rabbits, 
and in fact the only method which can be relied on, is the use of 
rabbit-proof fences. 

(4) Under favorable circumstances great numbers of jack rabbits 
may be killed by drives or large hunts, but this means will only serve 
to reduce their numbers, and can not be used to exterminate the pests. 

(5) Bounties or other direct expenditures of public money for the 
destruction of rabbits have failed to accomplish the desired object. 
Bounty laws afford unusual opportunities for fraud, and the amounts 
expended are often so large as to be a serious burden on the county or 

(6) The extermination of rabbits can only be accomplished by coop- 
eration on the part of individual farmers or landowners. The work of 
destruction can be most effectually and economically done when the 
animals have suffered an unusual decrease in numbers, either from a 
severe winter, lack of food, or an epidemic. 

(7) Commercial utilization is the most promising and least expensive 
method of keeping these pests in check in localities where they are 


unusually abundant; but returns from this source will only partially 

offset the losses sustained on account of injuries to crops. 

(8) Jack rabbits may be used for coursing, for their skins, or for food. 
The United States imports annually millions of rabbit skins for fell 
and other purposes. The skins of jack rabbits could probably be 
used for many purposes for which the cheaper grades of imported 
skins are now utilized, and could be collected so cheaply as to leave a 
margin of profit. 

(9) The consumption of jack rabbits for food amounts to about 
600,000 per annum, and is gradually increasing. This game can be 
obtained in considerable quantities on the plains and on the deserts of 
the Great Basin, and may be profitably shipped to Eastern markets to 
the mutual benefit of the farmer and the consumer. 

(10) In America the rabbit question never has, and probably never 
will, assume the proportions it has assumed in Australia. The jack 
rabbits of the United States are all indigenous species and ordinarily 
are held in check by natural enemies and by disease. Although local 
conditions may sometimes favor their temporary increase, yet natural 
agencies, aided by the persistent and constantly increasing war of 
extermination, are gradually, but none the less surely, diminishing their 


Tbe following list contains references to only a few of the more 
important articles on jack rabbits and the rabbit pest in Australia. Some 
of these papers have been referred to in scattered footnotes, but are here 
grouped under several headings for convenience of reference. Yery 
little has been published on rabbit driving, and this mainly in the form 
of brief notes and descriptions of single drives which are mentioned 


Griffin, G. W., The Rabbit Skin Trade of New Zealand, U. S. Consular Repts., XIX, 
May, 1882, pp. 118-122. 
Poland, Henry, Fur-Bearing Animals, 1892. 


American Field, XXX, 1888, p. 504; XXXIII, 1890, pp. 395-396, and subsequent 

H[older], C. F., Mounted Sport in California, Forest and Stream, XXVIII, 1887, 
pp. 2-3. 


Allen, J. A., Proc. Boston Soc. Nat. Hist., 1875, pp. 430-436. Monographs N. Am. 
Rodentia, 1877. 

Audubon and Bachrnan, Quadrupeds of N. Am., Vols. I— III, 1851. 

Bachnian, John, Jour. Acad. Nat. Sci., Phila., VII, pt. II, 1837, p. 282 et seq; VIII, 
1839, p. 75 et seq. 

Baird, S. F., Mammals N. Am., 1857. 

Gray, J. E., Charlesw. Mag. Nat. Hist., I, 1837, 586-587 (Lepus californicus). 
Ann. and Mag. Nat. Hist., 3d ser., XX, 1867, pp. 221-225. 

Lewis and Clark Exped., Coues' edition, Vol. Ill, 1893, pp. 865-866 (Prairie Hare\ 

Mearns, E. A., Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist., New York, II, Feb., 1890, pp. 294-304 
(Lepus alleni and L. melanotis). 

Waterhouse, G. R., Nat. Hist. Mamm., II, Rodentia, 1848. 


Brandegee, Katherine, Cfenurus of the Hare, Zoe, I, Nov., 1890, p. 265-268. 

Progress Rept. Roy. Comm. Inquiry Exterm. Rabbits in Australasia, 1890, pp. 138- 

Rept. to the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales on the Rabbit Pest, 1888, 
pp. 1-17. 

Thomas, A. P. W., Report on Rabbit Nuisance in Wairarapa District, New Zea- 
land, 1888, pp. 1-7; 1889, pp. 1-14. 


[Editorial] Driving the Jack Rabbits, San Francisco Mining and Scientific Press, 
Jan. 28, 1888, p. 51 (Bakersfield, Cal.). 

Fremont, J. C, Expl. Exped. to Oregon and California, 1845, p. 227. 

Greene, C. S., Rabbit Driving in the San Joaquin Valley, Overland Monthly, XX, 
July, 1892, pp. 49-58 (Traver, Cal.). 


Manly, W. L., Death Valley in '49, p. 110 (near Little Sail Lake, Utah). 

Sayers, R. II., A.Jack Rabbit Hunt, Am. Field, XLI, No. 10, .Mar. L0, L894, p. 222 
i Lamar, Colo.). 

Scientific American, LXI, Nov. 19, L889, p.295 (Wildflower, Cal.). 

Shooting and Fishing, XV, L894, pp. 221, 303; XIX, Jan. 2, L896, p. 225 i Lamai, 
Colo.). m 

Townsend, C. 1 1.. A .lack Rabbit Drive, Forest and Stream, XXXVIII, Mar. 3, 1892, 
p. 197 (near Fresno, Cal. ). 

Townsend, J. K., Narrative of a Journey Across the Rocky Mountains, L839, p. 327. 

White, N. E., A California Rabbit Round-up, Am. Field, XXX, Nov. :;. L888, p. 
410 (Bakersfield, Cal.) 

Coues, E., American Rabbits or Hares. Am. sportsman. Aug. 29, 1ST I. 
Cones, E., Habits of the Prairie Hare, Bull. Esses Institute, VII (1875), 1876, pp. 
Cones. E., Am. Naturalist, I. Dec, 1867, pp. 531-534 I Lepua texianus). 
Van Dyke, T. B., Southern California. 1886, pp. 130-132. 


Final Rept. Roy. Comm. Inquiry Exterm. Rabbits Australasia, 1890, pp. 1-20. 

Morgan, J. M.. The Rabbit Test in Victoria. CJ. s. Consular Repts., Vol. XX, No. 72. 
Dec, 1886, pp. 182-484. 

Progress Rept. Roy. Comm. Enquiry Exterm. Rabbits Australasia, 1890, pp. 1-216. 

Rept. Comm. Legislative Council New South Wales on Rabbit Nuisance Ac1 of 1883, 
lssT, pp. 1-46. 

Rept. Proo. Conference Rabbit Pest in New South Wales. 1895, pp. L— 33. 

Wealth and Progress, New South Wales (Annual Volumes). 

Yearbooks of Australia and of the separate Colonies. 

801.")— No. 8 G 

N I) E X 

Abundance 24-25 

Ad. i County, Idaho, bounty 41-42 

All. ns Jack 22-2:5 

Arizona Indian drives 4!) 

Australia, commercial utilization in G">. To. 77 

expenditures 43-44 

export of skins 70 

introduction of rabbits 43 

legislation in 43-44. 

met hods of destruction 37, 39 

rabbit fences 43-44 

Bibliography 80-81 

Black-tailed .lack Rabbit 19-21 

Bladder worm 36 

Bounties 40-43 

California 40-41 

Idaho 41-42 

i Oregon 42 

Texas 42 

Utah 43 

Breeding habits 25-29 

Butte County, Cal., bounty 40,41 

OamuruM 30,72 

California, abundance in 24-25 

bounties 40-41 

coursing in 66-68 

depredations 13,32 

drives, list of 55-57 

epidemics 45-46 

limits by Indians 48 

Jack Rabbit 17-19 

market s for rabbits 74-77 

summary of drives 58 

Canning rabbits 77-78 

Capture of rabbits for soursing 53,67 

Change of pelage 14,15 

Chicken cholera 36 

■ i in 'i ri for me 37 

Colorado hunts 63-64 

markets 64, 74 

( !oluea County, Cal., bounty 40 

Commercial utilization of rabbits — 37,65,70,77 

Corrals for rabbil drives 4 ( .». 50 

County ordinances 41 

Coursing 66-68 

capture of rabbits for 53, 67 

Coyote bounty law 45 

Wa -10.72 

mil 37 

Depredations 13 

Desert hare 19 

Diseases. [See Epidemics.) 

Destruction of rabbits by cold 42 

by epidemics 15 it; 

Distribution 11,15,17,20,22 

Dri\ es. best time for 29, 59 

California 17 59 

early 52 53 

history of 17-49 

Idaho 62 63 

Indian 17 lit 

largest 54,64 

listof 55 r>7 

method of conducting 17-52 

objections to 

< Oregon 59 

origin of 47 

results of 57-59, 04 

Enemies of rabbits u i"> 

Epidemics 15-46 

Expenditures in Australia for destruction 

of rabbits 43-44 

Felt, made from rabbit skins 69 

Fences, rabbit proof 33 -34 

for drives 19 50 

in Australia 34. 43-44 

substitute for :!4 

Food of rabbits 12-13 

Fresno County. Cal., abundance in 32 

bounty 40 

drives 54, 55 

Fur, rabbit skins for 09 

Game 71-77 

how killed and shipped 72-74 

market for 74 78 

General habits 11-13 

Goshen rabbit drive club 49 

Crease for smearing trees 35 

Hare. Desert 19 

Prairie 14-17 

Hunts, Colorado 

Idaho 62 63 


Utah 60-62 

summary of 64 

Idaho, bounties 41-42 

depredations 31 

drives 02 63 

Indian methods of hunting 17-49 

met hods of preparing skins 

Injury to crops I 

in Australia 32 





Inoculation 36-37 

I.i "iii a 71 

Kansas, ooursing in 66-68 

shipments from 73 

Lake County, Oreg., bounty 42 

drives 59 

Lascelles' process of preparing phosphorus. 39 

Lepus ulli'ni 22-23 

americanus 69 

californicus 17-19, 72 

ca mpestris '. 14-17, 72-74 

cuniculus 25, 43, 72 

melanotis 21-22, 74 

texianus 19-21 

texianus eremicus 19 

timidus 25, 72 

Market for jack rabbits 74-76 

in Australia 77 

prices 75 

shipment to 73 

Methods of destruction : 

Australian 37-38 

bounties 40-43 

drives 47-52 

hunts 47, 48, 60-64 

inoculation 36-37 

poison 38-39 

Modoc County, Cal., abundance in 24 

bounty 40 

drives 54, 56 

New South Wales, expenditures in 43-44 

reward offered by Government 36 

New Zealand, expenditures in 44 

export of skins 70 

Oregon, bounties 42 

drives 48, 59 

Parasites 1 71-72 

Phosphorus 39 

Summary and conclusions 78-79 

Poison, danger of using 38 

phosphorus 39 

strychnine. 38-39 

Potash for smearing trees : 35 

Prairie Hare 14-17 

Protection of orchards 32-35 

by fences 32-34 

by smears 34-35 

Quassia for smearing trees 35 

Queensland, expenditures in 43, 44 

Rabbit day in Colorado 63 

Rabbit measles 37 

scab 36, 37 

Reward offered by New South Wales for 

destruction of rabbits 36 

San Bernardino County, Cal., bonntj 40 

San Joaquin Valley, Cal.. abundance of 

rabbits in 20-21.24.32 

drives 47. 49-54 

shipments from 67, 73 

Skins, exported from Australia 70 

consumption of, in United States 69. 71 

imported by England 70 

uses of i 69 

Smears \ 4-35 

South Australia, expenditures in .• 44 

export of* skins 70 

Species found in United States 13-14 

Allen's Hare 14, 22-23 

Black-eared Jack 14, 21-22 

Black-tailed Jack Rabbit 14. 19-21 

California Jack Rabbit 17-19 

Eastern Jackass Hare 14. 21-22 

Prairie Hare 14-17 

Texan Jack Rabbit 14. 19-21 

White-tailed Jack Rabbit 14-17 

Strychnine 38-39 

Taenia serialis 72 

Tapeworms in rabbits 72 

Tasmania, expenditures in 43, 44 

export of skins 70 

Texas, bounties 42 

depredations in 30-31 

Ticks 71 

Tintinallogy disease 36 -37 

Tree protectors . 24 

Trichinosis .- 72 

Tulare County, Cal., bounties 41 

drives 49-50, 53, 56-57 

injury to crops • 32 

Utah, bounties 43 

hunts 60-C2 

depredations in 31 

Value of jack rabbits 65-77 

Varying Hare, export of skins from America ti9 

Victoria, canning rabbits in 78 

depredations 32 

expenditures in 43. 44 

export of skins 70 

introduction of rabbits 43 

Warbles in rabbits 46, 72 

Washington, depredations in 31 

Young, number of 26-27 

time of birth 27-29 



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